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ALICE BLYTHE 
SOMEWHERE 
IN ENGLAND 



flBaSMttMIHMi 



By MARTHA TRENT 








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UNIV. OF CALIF. LIBRARY. LOS ANGELES 



ALICE BLYTHE 



SOMEWHERE IN ENGLAND 



BY 

MARTHA TRENT 



ILLUSTRATED BY 

CHAS. L. WRENN 



(The. 

GOLDSMITH 




\ 



MMHIMUft* 






Copyright, 1918 

by 

Barse & Hopkins 



CONTENTS 

CHAPTER PAGE 

I BEINSLEY HALL 11 

II Mystery Meadow 21 

III The Last Evening 31 

IV Peter off for the Front 43 

V Two Letters 53 

VI Mr. Muggins, Agitator 61 

VII A Wire for the Major 71 

VIII The Ride to Town 79 

IX Off to France 89 

X Helen Carey 97 

XI A Strange Reunion 107 

XII A Sudden Decision 121 

XIII A Cry in the Dark . 129 

XIV Peter's Instructions Put to the Test . . . 137 
XV A Hint of Disaster 149 

XVE The Return to Little Petstone .... 161 

XVII Lieutenant White 175 

XVIII In the Tower 183 

XIX Hopes 193 

XX News at Last 199 

XXI An Understanding at Mystery Meadow . . 213 



2133229 



Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2007 with funding from 

Microsoft Corporation 



http://www.archive.org/details/aliceblythesomewOOtreniala 



ALICE BLYTHE 



K 



CHAPTER I 

BRINSLEY HALL 

' NIT two, purl two, knit two, purl two, 
knit two, purl two, — no, that's wrong 
— now what have I done? Oh dear, 
of all the—" 

Alice Blythe broke off in the middle of her sen- 
tence and bent her head over her knitting needles. 
Her broad forehead was contracted into a per- 
plexed frown, and her mouth puckered. There 
was a half woeful, half humorous expression in 
her blue eyes. She regarded the khaki-colored 
wristlet as it hung limply from its four steel 
needles, and sighed. 

There was something ridiculous about Alice 

when she tried to knit. No one could decide just 

what it was, for Alice was far from a ridiculous 

person. She was a tall, very fair girl with a pair 

11 



12 ALICE BLYTHE 

of broad sloping shoulders that a boy might have 
envied, and a slim waist. On the tennis court, 
with her hair blowing about her face, and her eyes 
sparkling, she was beautiful. Major Chetwood, a 
retired Army officer, and a neighbor, called her 
"Diana of the Tennis Racket,' ' and no one con- 
sidered the compliment extravagant. 

But even the Major, watching her as she sat 
doubled up like a jack-knife in a big winged chair, 
her knees almost touching her chin as her big 
white hands tried to manipulate the slippery 
needles, would have had to laugh. Alice laughed 
herself, but there was a note of despair in her 
voice. She got up and walked forlornly down the 
long room, her ball of worsted unrolling forgotten 
behind her. 

"It's wrong again," she announced tragically 
from the doorway of the dining-room. 

Aunt Matilda, a rosy cheeked, little old lady, 
looked up from the napkins she was sorting before 
the Flemish oak sideboard, and smiled cheerfully. 
Aunt Seraphina, who was packing a big trunk over 
by the window, laughed softly. 

"What is it now, child, another stitch dropped?" 
Aunt Matilda asked. 



BRINSLEY HALL 13 

Alice held out her work for inspection. Her 
aunt shook her head slowly. "You've picked one 
up this time, and this should have been a purl. 
Remember to watch the stitch on the row before, 
and if it's tied you'll know it's a purl stitch. 
Don't you see?" 

Alice looked from her to the tangled knitting, 
and then laughed. "No, Auntie, I don't, and I 
never shall. What under the sun does a tied 
stitch mean?" 

Aunt Matilda was about to explain, but her sis- 
ter interrupted. "Don't bother with it any more, 
my dear," she said to Alice, "I'll rip out a few 
rows for you and start you right to-morrow. 
You've done enough for one day. Come and help 
me with this trunk. Andrew is going to call for it 
directly after luncheon, and my back is so tired 
with stooping over it." 

"Seraphina, how will that child ever learn to 
knit if you keep ripping out her work and doing 
it yourself?" Aunt Matilda protested mildly. 

Alice supplied the answer. "The child, Auntie 
dear," she said, "never will learn to knit. You 
hate to admit it even to yourself, but Aunt Sera- 
phina, having ripped out this particular wristlet 



li ALICE BLYTHE 

every night this week, knows the signs, and she 
thinks I can be more useful doing something else. 
She's quite right, I can, and packing a trunk will 
be such a relief. What goes in it, old linen for 
Mother 's bandage committee ? ' ' 

"Yes, she asked us to look over our things a 
week ago. They need soft cloths very badly in the 
hospitals, she tells me," Aunt Matilda explained. 
"It's surprising how many old worn napkins we 
had packed away. I'd no idea." 

Alice nodded, turned back the cuffs of her blue 
serge dress, and dropped to her knees beside the 
trunk. 

Aunt Matilda and Aunt Seraphina, or, to give 
them the names by which they were affectionately 
known throughout the countryside, the Misses 
Brinsley, were not, correctly speaking, Alice's 
aunts, they were no nearer connection than third 
cousins. But, years before, when Alice was a very 
little girl and had made her first visit to the old 
house, she had adopted them as aunts, and aunts 
they had been ever since. 

They were dear old ladies, kindly and gracious 
with an old world charm, and the broad low-ceil- 
inged rooms of Brinsley Hall with their faded 



BRINSLEY HALL 15 

chintz hangings made a fitting background for 
their gentle lives. 

Although the old house, now almost completely- 
covered by ivy, was not as pretentious as many of 
the great places in the surrounding neighborhood, 
it antedated them all, and its history and fame 
were a matter of pride to the countryside. Brins- 
ley Hall had held its own in the strife of past cen- 
turies, was spoken of in the histories and guide 
books, and many were the whispered tales of the 
dashing knights who had been sheltered in the 
hidden chamber of the South Tower. It was hard 
to believe these tales sometimes, especially on a 
spring day when the meadows and fields of Sussex 
stretched out lazily in the sunshine. Even the 
broad, flag-stoned courtyard, and the old-fash- 
ioned garden with its serpentine wall that flanked 
the gray rambling house, seemed to laugh them to 
scorn. Only the old tower itself, still upright and 
grim, was left to support the burden of the splen- 
did traditions. That is — the Tower, and Peter St. 
John. 

Peter was a great nephew of the Misses Brins- 
ley, and he had lived with them ever since he 
was five years old. When he was eight he had 



16 ALICE BLYTHE 

discovered for himself the spring that opened the 
sliding panel in the Long Room behind the book- 
case. The consequences of his discovery had been 
five honrs imprisonment in the dusty, cobwebbed 
tower, before Aunt Matilda had found him. 

No one ever knew what his thoughts were during 
those five hours, but whatever they were he main- 
tained a solemn respect and awe for the tower for 
the rest of his life. Perhaps his awe lessened 
with the years at Boarding School and College, but 
the respect remained. 

Peter was in the Royal Flying Corps now. He 
had been too young at the outset of the War to go 
directly to France, and he had been forced to fret 
away two years studying, before he could hope to 
attain the dignity of a pilot. But the time had al- 
most come to an end, and it was the thought that 
he would soon be leaving for France that was up- 
permost in Alice's thoughts as she packed the 
trunk under the direction of Aunt Seraphina. 

* ' Funny we don 't hear from Peter, isn 'tit? Do 
you suppose he's going to just drop down out of 
the skies and surprise us?" she asked, carefully 
refolding a napkin so that it would fit in a particu- 
lar corner. 



BRINSLEY HALL 17 

* * Gracious me ! I hope not, ' ' Aunt Matilda said 
fervently. "It was quite bad enough when I had 
to think of the dear boy in one of those dreadful 
balloons, but now that I've seen him — " Her 
pause was eloquent; Alice laughed. 

"Was it as bad as that, Auntie ?" she asked. 
She had reference to the only time that Peter had 
flown out from Golders Green and landed in full 
view of his terrified aunts in the home meadow. 

"It was, my dear," Aunt Matilda replied de- 
cidedly, and Aunt Seraphina added: "I dream of 
it at night sometimes, and I assure you I waken 
cold from fright." 

* ■ Poor dear ! ' ' Alice comforted. * * Peter should 
not have come without letting us know well in ad- 
vance, and I'm sure he won't again." 

She had cause to be sure. After the aunts had 
recovered from that first shock of seeing their 
nephew "crashing to earth," to quote Aunt Ma- 
tilda, she and Peter had arranged a safer meeting 
place. It was an open rolling meadow over a 
mile from the house. There was a big empty hay 
barn nearby that did very well for a hangar, and 
there they had met on many a clear afternoon. 
Alice caught her breath guiltily at the thought of 



18 ALICE BLYTHE 

those meetings. Peter had not been content to 
volplane easily to earth, but had made his machine 
do many more terrifying stunts for her benefit. 
And furthermore, there had been times when Peter 
had gone up when he was not alone. Alice shut 
her eyes as she knelt beside the trunk and remem- 
bered her first glorious feeling of soaring up, up 
into the blue sky. That had happened weeks ago ; 
there had been many flights since, and on her last 
one Peter had let her — 

She opened her eyes wide and turned with re- 
newed energy to her packing. What Peter had 
done was a sworn secret, and she didn't dare even 
think about it. 

"There, I'm sure that's as full as we can get it, 
Auntie," she said a little later, "and if you find 
that any more of the napkins are worn out, we 
won't have any left." 

"Nonsense, my dear, I'm not touching the good 
ones, and it's the sheets that have filled up the 
trunk," Aunt Matilda explained tranquilly. She 
always took everything that Alice said very seri- 
ously, and could never understand her when she 
teased. 



BRINSLEY HALL 19 

Aunt Seraphina laughed. Then she said 
quietly: "I hope they'll help; your mother said 
they used such a lot, and, after all, a trunkfuPs not 
much for a big hospital.' ' 

"Mother will be tickled to death," Alice assured 
her. 

"That is, if she has time to be; she works so 
hard and so fast that really, you know, I don't 
think she leaves herself time to be glad or sorry 
about anything, and Dad's the same way. Up all 
night sometimes. Thank goodness, I had here to 
come to. The house in London is about as cheer- 
ful as a museum, and when I fuss about it, Mother 
says, 'You're entirely too young to go into a hos- 
pital.' She really means I'm too clumsy. 'Why 
don't you learn to knit?' And Dad says, 'Better 
go down and visit "The Aunts," Cricket, you're 
getting too big for the house.' " Alice surveyed 
herself in the glass and sighed. 

"Why can't I be nice and dainty and ladylike, I 
wonder," she said woefully. 

"My dear!" Aunt Matilda protested. "You are 
ladylike." 

"And a great joy to two very lonely old ladies," 



20 ALICE BLYTHE 

Aunt Seraphina added affectionately. "Isn't 
that a telegraph boy I see in the lane?" she added, 
"Do run and see what he wants; Andrew is so 
slow." 



CHAPTER II 

MYSTERY MEADOW 

ALICE met the telegraph boy, who hap- 
pened to be a very old man with white 
hair, and had to sign his book before he 
would give her the message. She tore open the 
envelope on the way back to the house, for the 
wire was addressed to her, and paused a moment 
to read : 
"Will be down about five, meet me. Peter." 
"Will be down," she repeated thoughtfully, 
"that means he's going to fly, and I'm to meet him 
at three." 

It was part of their secret plot that they ar- 
ranged their meetings by seemingly innocent 
wires, but "be down," meant literally be down, 
for if Peter had meant that he was coming by train 
he would have written "will arrive." And he 
always put the time a couple of hours later than 
he really intended, which gave his cousin a chance 
to meet him in the meadow, and go for a short 

21 



22 ALICE BLYTHE 

flight without causing any undue anxiety at Brins- 
ley Hall. 

Alice, after she had decided that she fully un- 
derstood the meaning of the message, hurried back 
to the dining room. The aunts were waiting for 
her, both a little flustered and excited. The de- 
livery of telegrams at Brinsley Hall had always 
been an event, heralding births, deaths or mar- 
riages, and they had never grown accustomed to 
Peter's careless use of them. 

Alice's smile and flushed cheeks, however, 
quieted their fears. 

"He's coming," she announced gayly, "later 
this afternoon." 

"For how long?" Aunt Matilda inquired 
eagerly. 

"Doesn't say," Alice handed her the wire; 
"maybe he's got his commission and is just com- 
ing down to tell us about it. Wouldn't it be jolly 
if he had? I will be glad to see him, it's an age 
since his last visit," and she shut down the trunk, 
strapped it, and tied on the tag in a flurry of ex- 
citement. 

"I must see that his room is ready, poor boy, 
I'm quite sure he's not used to a comfortable bed, 



MYSTERY MEADOW 23 

for he always sleeps so late when he's here," Aunt 
Matilda said as she hurried out of the room. 

"Fiddle sticks," was Aunt Seraphina's reply, 
"Peter always did sleep late whenever he could. 
I'm going to interview cook," and she bustled into 
the kitchen, her mind already busy with a list of 
his favorite dishes. 

Alice was left alone. She picked up her knit- 
ting, and after another rueful glance at it, and the 
telltale trail of worsted on the floor, she went off 
in search of the ball. 

Directly after luncheon she announced that she 
was going to take out her car and go for a spin. 
"I'll drop in at the Chetwoods', perhaps, and 
end up at the station in time to meet Peter," she 
finished. 

"Very well, my dear," Aunt Matilda sighed 
helplessly, and her simple words gave the impres- 
sion that the limit of her endurance had been 
reached. "If your dear father and mother see 
fit to let you go careening about the country in a 
dangerous automobile, there is nothing I can say, 
but I can't help being fidgety every minute you're 
in it." 

"Poor Auntie," Alice laughed, "with Peter 



24 ALICE BLYTHE 

driving an aeroplane and me driving a car you 
don't have much peace of mind, do you? But 
you ought not to blame Mother or Dad ; it 's really 
Gilbert 's fault. When he went to France he gave 
me his car and told me to do my worst. ' ' Gilbert 
Blythe was Alice's brother, her senior by six years, 
and a captain in the British Army. "And so far 
I haven't killed a chicken," she continued cheer- 
fully. 

"Major Chetwood tells me you're really a very 
expert driver for a girl," Aunt Seraphina re- 
marked, pride in her voice. 

"Well I can't quite make up my mind to it," 
Aunt Matilda insisted; "it's not what I'd call a 
ladylike accomplishment. ' ' 

Alice had risen from the table and was stand- 
ing back of her aunt's chair. She leaned down 
and kissed her lightly. 

"Don't worry about me, Auntie dear, and I'll 
promise to be no end careful." She kissed Aunt 
Seraphina on her way to the door, and hurried 
out to the barn. 

Andrew Mucklewhaum, the old Scotch gardener, 
was busy digging up the flower beds. When she 
passed he touched his cap respectfully. Andrew 



MYSTERY MEADOW 25 

never wasted words nor changed his expression 
unless the situation absolutely demanded it, and 
then he was sparing of both. 

" Master Peter's coming down to-day,' ' Alice 
called cheerfully as she climbed into her car. 

Andrew looked up slowly, nodded his head 
gravely, and went on with his digging. The re- 
mark would have remained unanswered if Henry, 
the green-grocer's boy, had not heard it. 

"His 'e, Miss? you doan't say!" he exclaimed in 
broad cockney. Henry's family had only just 
moved to the country from the very heart of Lon- 
don. "Hi knows all about Master Peter, Miss, 
Hi'm goin' to join meself, Miss, soon's Hi'm h'old 
h 'nough. ' ' 

Alice tried not to smile at the eager face before 
her. "What are you going to join, Henry?" she 
asked as she pressed her foot on the self-starter. 

"Same's Master Peter, beggin' your pardon, 
Miss, the H 'elevation Corpse. Alf Gubber, you 
know 'im, Miss, 'is father's the blacksmith, 'e 
writes 'ome there's nothing like h'it." 

Alice was forced to end the conversation there. 
She nodded brightly to Henry, wished him good- 
luck, and started with all speed down the road to- 



26 ALICE BLYTHE 

wards the Chetwoods' place. When she was out 
of hearing she laughed long and heartily. 

" 'H 'elevation Corpse,' oh, dear, wait till I tell 
the Major, it will cure his gout," she said to the 
throbbing engine. 

Her call at the Chetwoods* was short. Muriel, 
the Major's niece, a girl of Alice's age, was out, 
and that supplied the excuse for not staying. She 
repeated the story of Henry, and before Mrs. Chet- 
wood and the Major had stopped laughing she was 
again in her car and headed in the direction of 
" Mystery Meadow," as she and Peter called their 
meeting place. When she reached it, she stopped 
the car on the road and looked up expectantly at 
the sky, and waited. 

There were many exciting adventures waiting 
just ahead for Alice, but nothing that was to hap- 
pen ever quite compared with the silent thrill of 
those minutes as she watched and waited for the 
first glimpse of the little speck against the sky 
that meant Peter's arrival. She did not have long 
to wait this time. The little speck appeared from 
behind a fluffy white cloud, followed by the buzzing 
hum as the 'plane came nearer. Alice watched 
and held her breath. Peter was evidently in a 



MYSTEEY MEADOW 27 

hurry for lie omitted to glide and dip. As soon as 
he soared above the meadow he volplaned down 
at once. The machine landed as gently as a giant 
gull, and stopped near Alice. Peter jumped out. 

"Hello, old girl! Thought I'd be ahead of you 
to-day. Got off sooner than I expected. " 

"So did I," Alice replied; "what's the news?" 

1 ' Tell me yours first. How are the aunts 1 ' ' 

"Wildly excited over your arrival. I left them 
turning the house inside out, and I heard Aunt 
Seraphina order a chocolate cake, regardless of 
expense." 

"Bless 'em!" Peter said, grinning. "I say, Al- 
ice, we'll have to be very cheery to-night, you 
know, I go back to-morrow. ' ' He turned and be- 
came suddenly absorbed in his engine. "Got my 
commission at last, and my orders for France," 
he finished quite casually. 

"Peter!" Alice's tone was a mixture of pride, 
excitement and horror, and she wanted to give 
vent to all three emotions, but she knew that that^ 
was the last thing Peter would want her to do, 
so she said quite calmly instead : ' ' Good old boy, I 
am glad." 

"So am I," Peter grumbled; "I've wasted 



28 ALICE BLYTHE 

enough time. I might have been gone over a year 
ago. I was ready enough, if I hadn't been so 
beastly young. ' ' 

Alice did not reply, she nodded her head sympa- 
thetically, and Peter helped her on with a big 
sweater that she had tucked away in her car. 

"There you are," he said, laughing; "put on 
your gauntlets and jump in, I'm afraid this is the 
last lesson." 

Alice took her place in the little seat, and Peter 
climbed in behind her, after starting the big pro- 
peller shaft. The machine rose gradually and the 
lesson began. 

"I'm getting the hang of it, Peter," Alice said 
when they were back in the meadow again, and 
pushing the plane towards the barn. "What a 
pity you are going away. Of course, I'll forget 
everything I've learned," she added. She had a 
splendid color in her cheeks. It is cold up in the 
clouds and Peter had taken her up higher than 
ever before to-day, and her eyes sparkled from 
the excitement. 

Peter looked at her approvingly. He was fond 
of his handsome cousin, very much in the same 



MYSTERY MEADOW 29 

way that he was fond of some of the boys he had 
gone to college with. People often spoke of the 
two as being like brother and sister, but they were 
wrong. They were comrades of long standing, 
and the very distant blood tie between them had 
nothing to do with it. Peter never felt that he 
must protect Alice from danger, and Alice never 
felt that he ought to. If there was danger ahead 
they met it together side by side, and shared 
equally the result. She would have indignantly 
resented it had he assumed the role that she per- 
mitted her brother Gilbert, and it must be said for 
Peter that the idea of such a role never entered 
his head. 

When the barn door was locked, and the machine 
safe for the night, they took off their extra cloth- 
ing and hid it carefully in the car, like two con- 
spirators, then Alice slipped into the driver's seat, 
and Peter lazed comfortably beside her. s 

They did not talk very much on the way home. 
Alice drove the car slowly along the country road, 
and Peter, as he watched the rolling meadows 
that stretched out on either side of them, sighed 
contentedly. 



30 ALICE BLYTHE 

" Anywhere especially you want to go before 
we turn in?" Alice inquired, as they came to the 
gates of Brinsley Hall. 

"No, — home, James!" Peter answered with a 
flourish of his hand, and they turned up the drive. 



CHAPTER in 

TdE LAST EVENING 

TEA was waiting for them in the Long 
Room, so called because it ran the entire 
length of the house at the back. There 
was a big open fireplace at each end of it, but be- 
cause it was war-times only one had a fire going. 
Aunt Matilda and Aunt Seraphina were busy 
knitting beside it, both dressed in rustling black 
silk, and Aunt Matilda's white head was crowned 
by a black lace cap trimmed with lavender ribbons. 
They were both sitting in cozy fire chairs, and a ta- 
ble bearing a big silver tray with the tea things 
stood near at hand. 

Peter did not wait for Alice to put the car in 
the stable, but hurried into the house at once. 

"Hello everybody !" he shouted, and took the 
three steps that led from the hall down to the Long 
Room at one bound. He kissed his aunts heartily, 
an arm about each. 

31 



34 ALICE BLYTHE 

"My dear, what are you saying ?" Aunt Sera- 
phina's eyes twinkled behind their mist of tears; 
"you won't be any such thing, and besides you 
don't like plum conserve, you know you don't." 

They all laughed, and for the time the danger 
was past. 

Perhaps it would have been kinder of Peter to 
have let his aunts have a good cry, but he was very 
young and he had a horror of tears. Alice under- 
stood how he felt, and she knew too that the aunts 
would feel very proud, later on, if they could re- 
member that they had not broken down on that 
last day. So she did her best to keep them all 
laughing. But she had grave foreboding about 
the long evening still ahead of them. 

It was Aunt Seraphina who set her mind at ease. 
"I sent Andrew over to the Major's to ask them to 
come over to dinner," she said, half apologetically. 
"Matilda didn't want company, but I thought you 
had so little change there in camp, you might like 
it." 

Aunt Seraphina 's idea of Peter's life beyond 
Brinsley Hall was a very small tent, very little 
food, and a terrible amount of work. 

Peter laughed and kissed the pucker from her 



THE LAST EVENING 35 

forehead. "You did just right, Auntie dear. 
Who's coming, — anybody staying at the Ma- 
jor's?" 

"No, there's just Mrs. Chetwood, the Major, 
and Muriel." 

"Oh, well, they're only family," Peter laughed 
as he swallowed the last bite of toast on the plate. 
"And now that tea is over, how about a walk in 
the garden?" he suggested. 

"You and Alice go, dear," Aunt Matilda re- 
plied ; "it's a little too chilly for Seraphina and me 
yet; and besides with the Chetwoods coming we 
must attend to some of the preparations." 

"All right, we won't be long," Peter nodded; 
"it's been a ripping tea, and I really feel it's 
only fair to dinner to go out and get up some sort 
of an appetite." 

Alice jumped up, and the aunts left the room, 
their silk dresses rustling as they went up the three 
steps. 

"Poor darlings," Alice said sadly, "I know 
they are just longing to cry." 

"Nonsense, they're the best of sports," Peter 
protested; "they'd have no use for me if I stayed 
home and played slacker." 



36 ALICE BLYTHE 

"I know, but you'll admit it's a shock.* ' 

"Of course, and they've stood it just as I knew 
they would, with stiff upper lips, bless their 
hearts!" Peter was silent for a moment. "I 
say, I'm glad the Chetwoods are coming, though, 
it'll make getting through the evening so much 
easier. Come along out in the garden, I've got 
a lot to ask you." 

"What's the latest from Gib?" he inquired, as 
he opened the broad Dutch door that led out to 
the little brick terrace. 

1 * Not a word for ages. You know he wrote Dad 
not to worry if he didn't write for awhile, and 
Mother's afraid he's doing something foolish be- 
hind the German lines. I wish we'd hear," Alice 
replied. 

"I saw your mother the other day, and she 
looked tired to death. She's a wonder. She told 
me you were learning to knit." 

"Now, Peter, stop. Just because Mother 
teases, you can't. I'm not learning to knit. I'm 
trying to learn, and there's a whole lot of differ- 
ence. But tell me about yourself, do you know 
when you go?" 



THE LAST EVENING 37 

"Next week, I'm not sure about the day, but 111 
let you hear in plenty of time. ' ' 

"Time for what?" Alice inquired. 

"Why, to come up to London. You are coming 
to see me off, aren't you!' , 

Peter looked offended. 

"Your father said he'd take a day off just on 
account of it, and when you think that Uncle Rob- 
ert is the busiest doctor in London to-day, I — 
well, I naturally thought that you who have noth- 
ing to do would come along too." 

Alice avoided the point by asking. "Is he 
really? Good old Dad. But of course I'll be 
there," she added. 

"Well, I should hope so," Peter remarked, 
slightly mollified. 

"WTio goes with you?" Alice inquired, as they 
stopped to look at the old serpentine wall that 
curved in a graceful "S" across the end of the 
garden. 

"Oh, all the chaps," Peter replied. "I say, 
Alice, do you remember when we used to play 
hide and seek down here?" He laughed at the 
recollection. "You were a silly kid, you'd hide 



38 ALICE BLYTHE 

behind one of the bulges of this wall, and think 
I couldn't see you. I remember once I called you 
an ostrich and you cried because you mixed it up 
with a giraffe, and your neck was uncommon long 
in those days," he added mischievously. 

Alice laughed good-naturedly. "Yes, I remem- 
ber it almost as well as the day you cried when 
old Andrew told you the ghost story about the 
man who died in the tower." 

It was Peter's turn to laugh, but he didn't, he 
frowned instead. 

"Funny the way I've always felt about that 
tower," he said wonderingly. "It's always 
seemed so sort of human to me somehow. Do you 
remember, when I was a nipper, the way I'd al- 
ways say, 'I'll tell the tower on you,' when I was 
mad?" 

"Yes, you were a bit of a telltale," Alice agreed 
calmly. "I always wondered what you thought 
the tower would do?" 

"I didn't know," Peter replied. "I suppose I 
expected it to turn into one of those armored 
knights that Andrew was always talking about, 
and avenge my wrong. ' ' 

They turned to look at the house as they talked. 



THE LAST EVENING 39 

For the most part the gray of the stone merged 
into the dusk of the shadows, but towards the 
south corner the tower rose silhouetted against 
the twilight sky like a grim sentinel. 

Alice shivered. It was early Spring, and she 
had come out without a coat. 

"Looks a bit eerie, doesn't it!" Peter said. 
"Come along, let's go back to the house; you're 
cold." 

"And I've barely time to dress," Alice added. 

Dinner that night was a very jolly affair. The 
Major did most of the talking, and slipped in some 
sound advice between his stories and jokes. Peter 
listened and decided to remember what he said. 

After dinner, Muriel, a dark-haired, slender girl r 
a little older than Alice, played and sang for them. 
But it was not long before they were all settled 
comfortably about the fire, and the conversation 
turned to Peter's going. There was no danger of 
tears now, and they could afford to be serious. 

"Will they let you fly right over the enemy's 
lines, Peter?" Mrs. Chetwood asked. 

"I hope so," Peter replied. 

The Major turned to his wife. * * Certainly they 
will, my dear," he said impatiently; "what would 



40 ALICE BLYTHE 

they be sending the boy over for, if he was not to 
go over the enemy's lines? I take it you'll do 
scouting work at first, Peter, won't you?" he 
'asked. 

" Can't say, sir; most of the men back from the 
front tell me they do just about as they please. 
They may be sent to scout, but sometimes they 
stop to have a little friendly chat, if they happen 
to meet a German machine on the way home." 
Peter felt rather proud at sitting up and talking 
to a retired Army officer, and was not prepared 
for the damper that followed his remark. 

" That's all wrong," the Major exclaimed. "I 
hope, Peter, you'll never do anything like that. 
If you're sent out to scout, that's your job, and 
by gad, sir, you ought not to do anything else until 
your job 's finished. Now when I was in the Army, 
young men — " 

The Major was off on his favorite topic, and 
there was nothing for the rest to do but sit quietly 
and listen. Alice looked imploringly at Peter at 
the end of the fifteen minutes, and Peter winked. 
It was Aunt Seraphina who finally stopped the 
steady flow of his words. 

"Is that your very best uniform, dear?" she 



THE LAST EVENING 41 

asked mildly as the Major paused once for breath, 
and the question was asked so gently that he could 
not take offense. 

Peter tried not to smile as he replied: "Yes, 
Auntie, my very best, it's all brand new. Don't 
you like it?" 

"Oh, of course, dear, I like it, but it seems so — 
so very sort of ordinary for an officer, quite like 
your old one." 

They all laughed. 

"It is like it, Aunt Seraphina, except for the 
wonderful stripes," Alice explained. "They 
make all the difference in the world." 

Aunt Seraphina seemed to consider the point. 

"Yes, I suppose they do," she said at last, "but 
I can't help wishing that there was something dis- 
tinguishing, something different about your uni- 
form, Peter," 

Peter from his seat on the stool took her fragile 
little hand and rubbed it caressingly against his 
clean shaven cheek. 

"We'll put a distinguishing mark on it, if you 
say so, Auntie," he said, "just to please you. 
What shall it be?" 

"I think a blue forget-me-not under the lapel 



42 ALICE BLYTHE 

of your coat would be sweet, " Alice teased, and the 
Major laughed uproariously. 

Aunt Seraphina explained that she did not mean 
anything particularly, but she left an impression 
of gilt braid and tassels on the minds of her hear- 
ers. 

"The Brinsleys have always been in the Navy," 
she ended with dignity, "and the uniform is so 
much richer looking." 

"I don't see why the forget-me-not isn't a very 
sweet idea," Aunt Matilda said gently, and when 
the Major stopped laughing the talk drifted to 
other things. But Alice's thoughts refused to 
turn from the forget-me-not. She thought so 
much about it, in fact, that when the Chetwoods 
left, and the household went to bed, she slipped 
from her room and stole noiselessly to Peter's, 
and returned with his khaki coat under her arm. 



CHAPTER IV 

PETER OFF FOE THE FRONT 

THE next morning at breakfast Aunt Ma- 
tilda asked. 
"What were you doing last night, dear 
child, that kept you up so late? Your light was 
on until way past midnight." 

"Nothing very important, Auntie," Alice re- 
plied. * ' I was just fussing, ' ' and in the confusion 
of Peter's going the subject was dropped. 

The aunts were very brave and splendid when it 
came to those last good-bys, and Peter felt a lump 
in his throat as he took his place beside Alice in 
the car. He waved to the two quaint figures 
standing in the old courtyard, until the high box- 
hedge hid them from view. 

"I say, Alice, they're the finest of the fine," he 
said unsteadily. "Makes me feel like a perfect 
brute to be leaving them. Why, they've taken 
care of me all my life, been decenter to me than 

43 



44 ALICE BLYTHE 

fifty parents could have been, and now I'm repay- 
ing them by breaking their hearts. ' ' 

"Bot!" Alice replied shortly. " You 're going 
to fight for your country, and remember it 's their 
country too, and they'd lay down their lives for it 
to-morrow, just as you would. I'll admit it isn't 
a cheerful proceeding, but you're making it worse 
than it is. 'Tisn't as if you were going from a 
selfish choice, you've got to go and they've got to 
let you, that's all there is to it — you talk as if the 
bally war was your fault," she finished angrily. 

"And you talk as if you hadn't a drop of feel- 
ing," Peter said with disgust. 

Alice pressed the foot that was on the accelera- 
tor down hard, and the car dashed ahead at a ter- 
rific speed. Neither of them spoke until they 
reached the meadow. Then Alice helped roll the 
'plane out of the barn, got Peter's leather coat 
from the car, and held it for him. 

It was a cold morning. The breeze from the 
Channel was raw and damp, the feeling of Spring 
that had been in the air the day before was gone. 

Peter looked dubiously at the sky. "Wish I'd 
worn my muffler, ' ' he said gloomily. 

He walked over to Alice, but just before he 



PETEE OFF FOE THE FEONT 45 

slipped into the coat she was holding for him, he 
stopped to turn his collar up. As he folded one 
lapel over the other he saw an embroidered blue 
forget-me-not. It stood out boldly from its som- 
ber background. 

"I say — what? — " he demanded, surprised be- 
yond words. 

Alice laughed, she tried hard not to, but Peter 's 
expression was so utterly bewildered. 

1 ' You did that, ' ' he said, taking her by the shoul- 
ders, "but I'd like to know how you got my coat 
without my knowing it. ' ■ 

"Are you sure I did it?" Alice teased, "Maybe 
it was Auntie. It does look sweet, doesn't it?" 
she went on, giving the coat a little pat. 

"Well of all the — you — " Peter looked again 
at the forget-me-not and laughed too. 

"You can rip it out with your knife," Alice said 
when their mirth had subsided; "it won't leave a 
mark, and truly, Peter, I simply couldn't resist 
the temptation." 

' ' Eip it out ? Well I guess not ! ' ' Peter denied. 
"I'll leave it there for good luck, and every time 
I see it I'll remember my little cousin who has a 
nasty temper at times, but a good heart." He 



46 ALICE BLYTHE 

put on his coat, pulled his cap well down over his 
head, and drew on his gauntlets. 

"I'll write or wire you soon as I know when 
we leave," he said as he climbed into the machine. 

Alice nodded. 

"All right, I'll be up sure. Careful, I'll get 
out of your way. Good-by, and oh, Peter!" she 
had to shout over the throb of the engines, "I 
didn't mean all that rot I said coming over, I just 
did it so you wouldn't blub." 

The machine was making too much noise for an 
answer to be heard, but as it skimmed along the 
ground before it started to pick up, Peter leaned 
over the side and grinned. 

Alice drove back slowly. She stopped to do 
some errands on the way at Little Petstone, the 
nearest village to Brinsley Hall. It consisted of 
a few cottages close together on the main road, a 
blacksmith's shop, a school house and the church. 
She knew everybody she met, and she stopped to 
chat so often that it was nearly noon before she 
reached home. 

The wire from Peter did not come until the be- 
ginning of the next week, but when it did arrive 
it left little time for packing. Alice got it in the 



PETER OFF FOR THE FRONT 47 

morning and was in London in time for tea. Her 
father met her at the station and took her home 
to the big house that faced the Park. 

Peter had not exaggerated when he said that 
Dr. Blythe was the busiest doctor in London. He 
was. He had given up his practice at the outbreak 
of the War, and was now so occupied with hospital 
work that every minute was full. He was a kindly 
man of sixty with very clear blue eyes and black 
hair that was graying at the temples. Alice's 
mother was almost as busy as her father. She 
was a tall slender woman with large humorous 
brown eyes, and the rare quality of never getting 
ruffled. 

When Alice reached the drawing-room she was 
astonished to find her mother there to welcome 
her. 

"How ripping !" she said when she had kissed 
her. "I do feel honored. This is really quite 
an occasion." 

Mrs. Blythe laughed and pulled her down beside 
her on the sofa. 

"Why an occasion, Cricket?" her father in- 
quired. 

"Why, it's the first time I've seen both my par- 



48 ALICE BLYTHE 

ents at the same time since the war broke out," 
Alice laughed. * * Any news from Gib 1 ' ' she asked 
gravely. 

"Not yet," Dr. Blythe replied cheerfully, "but 
I've an idea we'll get a letter soon." 

"What time does Peter leave?" Alice asked to 
change the subject. 

"At eight to-morrow," her mother told her. 
"He's coming around to-night to say good-by to 
me, because I can't possibly get to the station, I 
have an appointment at the hospital." 

"Are you going, Dad?" 

"Yes, indeed, can't let Peter go off without see- 
ing the last of him," the Doctor said. "Even if 
he is your mother's cousin, I'm uncommonly fond 
of the youngster. They'll be gone by ten, and I 
can be at my first appointment in time." 

Alice looked wonderingly from her father to her 
mother. She was trying to adjust their new way 
of living with the memory of the old comfortable 
life before the war. She drank her tea in silence. 

Peter came in a little later, but stayed only long 
enough to bid Mrs. Blythe good-by. 

"I do hope, Cousin Maude," he said laughing, 
when he stood up to go, "that if I get wounded out 



PETER OFF FOR THE FRONT 49 

there, they '11 ship me home to your hospital. Just 
think how ripping it would be if I opened my eyes, 
or perhaps it would only be one eye, and saw you 
bending over me, in that awfully becoming angel- 
white uniform of yours." 

Mrs. Blythe smiled and put her hand on his 
shoulder. 

"That's a very pretty compliment, Peter," 
she said, "but don't get wounded if you can 
help it. WeVe quite enough men in the hos- 
pitals, but there'll never be too many on the 
field." 

Peter laughed. 

"I see. In the hospital you're a care, in the 
field you're useful. Very sound advice, Cousin 
Maude, I'll remember." 

"Nonsense," Mrs. Blythe protested, "no 
wounded man's a care in the sense you mean, bless 
them, we love taking care of them, if they didn't 
have to suffer. I was only trying to suggest that 
you take no unnecessary chances. Don't — don't 
be foolhardy." 

"Oh, I won't, I'll be no end careful," Peter 
promised readily. "And now, good-by." He 
kissed her heartily and turned to Alice. 



50 ALICE BLYTHE 

* * I '11 see you in the morning,' ' he said; "mind 
you're on time." 

"Oh, we'll be there," the Doctor assured him, 
and Alice nodded. There was something wrong 
with her throat, and for the moment she could not 
seem to speak. She heard the front door slam 
after him, and felt suddenly dizzy. Her mother 
and father were talking about other things, and 
she picked up a book and tried to read. 

But she still had the same queer feeling the next 
morning as she stood in the station with her fa- 
ther, waiting for Peter. "When he joined them, 
Stephen Hunt was with him. Alice had known 
Stephen all her life, for he lived not very far from 
Brinsley Hall. The sight of him seemed to clear 
away her dizziness. 

"Hello!" she said, shaking hands with both of 
them. "Isn't it jolly to think you're going to be 
together." 

* ' Rather ! ' ' Stephen replied. 

"Where are your sisters? Are they coming 
down!" Alice inquired. 

Stephen shook his head. "No, indeed. I went 
home and said good-by last week. You see, 
they're all awfully busy knitting, and one thing 



PETER OFF FOR THE FRONT 51 

and another, and they couldn't get up to town. 
Peter's the lucky one, being seen off in the proper 
fashion." 

Peter laughed. 

"Catch me crossing to France if Alice wasn't 
here to wish me luck." And as Stephen tried to 
interrupt he said, * ' No you don 't, this is my party 
and you promised to talk to the Doctor if I brought 
you over. ' ' He took Alice 's arm and walked her 
down towards the other end of the station. 

"You'll write to me, old girl, won't you?" he 
asked anxiously. 

"Of course," Alice promised absently. "And 
Peter, do write to Brinsley Hall often, the aunts 
will only live for the mails, you know. ' ' 

"I will, on my word," Peter answered gravely. 

They passed a group of soldiers, and Alice rec- 
ognized Alfred Gubber the blacksmith's son. She 
nodded to him and turned to Peter. 

"Doesn't he look splendid in a uniform? I'll 
have to tell his mother I saw him," she said. 

"Who, Alf? Oh, yes, he's a fine chap, works 
twice as hard as any other man in the company," 
Peter replied. 

A stir at the train gates interrupted further con- 



52 ALICE BLYTHE 

versation. The men were forming ranks. Alice 
and Peter hurried back to the Doctor, and Stephen 
held out his hand. 

"Good-by, all 'round," he said, " looks as if 
we're off." 

Alice shook his hand mechanically and turned 
again to Peter just as her father said : "Remember 
to keep your ears open for news of Gilbert." 

"1 will, sir. Good-by," Peter shook the Doc- 
tor's hand. "Good-by, Alice, be a good child, 
and go have a look at Mystery Meadow once in a 
while, just for old times' sake," he said. 

"Good-by, Peter, and good-luck." Alice was 
herself again. "I will, and write when you get a 
chance, and of course, win all the decorations, ' ' she 
added laughing. 

"Oh, naturally," Peter replied. "I've always 
intended doing that." 

They shook hands and looked at each other 
squarely as comrades should, and then at a " Come 
along, old chap," from Stephen, Peter hurried to 
the gate, and Alice lost sight of him as he took his 
place beside the other men in khaki. 



CHAPTER V 

TWO LETTERS 

ALICE had the rest of the day on her hands 
and nothing to do. She roamed about 
the house all morning, a prey to very 
unhappy thoughts. It seemed that in the whole of 
England she was the only person who was not do- 
ing something of real importance. The thought 
had worried her for a long time, but in the past she 
had gone to the hospital and read to the soldiers 
for an afternoon, or made a few surgical dressings 
for her mother, and that had always quieted her 
conscience. But the time had come when little 
deeds were not enough. 

With Peter's going Alice suddenly realized that 
life was going to be awfully dull, and with the 
characteristic suddenness that always marked her 
decisions, she determined that she would find 
something to do, something of real importance, 
even if she had to work in the munition factories. 

With this high resolve she went to the hospital 

53 



54 ALICE BLYTHE 

after luncheon to see her mother. Mrs. Blythe 
listened sympathetically, when she was not open- 
ing the door of the little reception room to answer 
questions. At the end of their talk she said : 

"But Cricket, dear, you're so much too young 
to do anything that requires initiative." 

"I'm nearly seventeen, Mother," Alice inter- 
rupted. 

But her mother continued, "I can't have you go- 
ing into things that I don't know about. Do be 
content with making surgical dressings, there's 
a dear. ' ' 

And Alice knew that all her urging had been in 
vain. That night she besieged her father in his 
study. He was even less encouraging than her 
mother. 

"You in a munition factory!" he exclaimed. 
"Rubbish! Why, Cricket, I thought you had bet- 
ter sense. Come, come, your brother Gilbert is at 
the front, your cousin Peter left to-day, and your 
mother and I are doing our share. You can afford 
just to dabble, at least until you're a bit older. 
Why don't you join one of those Girls' Societies 
for amusing the soldiers?" he suggested as a con- 
solation. 



TWO LETTERS 55 

* 

Alice shook her head dejectedly. "That isn't 
real work, Dad, and you know it," she said quietly. 

Her father looked at her inquiringly. "I'll tell 
you what I'll do," he said. "You go back to the 
country and I'll keep my eyes open, and if I hear 
of a thing that you could do, I'll let you know. 
How's that?" 

And Alice had to be content with his promise. 

The next day she returned to Brinsley Hall, 
and for a while the task of keeping her aunts from 
thinking too much about Peter kept her busy, but 
all the time, as the days lengthened and the gar- 
dens were bright with flowers, the discontent in 
the back of her mind grew greater, and she gave 
up hoping that her father would ever find any- 
thing for her to do. 

One morning, about two weeks after Peter had 
left, she started to go over to the Chetwoods, and 
see if Muriel could suggest anything. She decided 
to walk, because the day was particularly fine, and 
she started down the road at her accustomed pace. 
She had not gone very far when she saw the Post- 
man's cart, and hurried towards it. 

"Good-morning, any letters for us?" she 
shouted, for Mr. Hotchkiss, who had been postman 



56 ALICE BLYTHE 

for many years at Little Petstone, was very 
deaf. 

"'Morning, Miss," he returned eagerly, "yes, 
IVe got a lot of letters for you this morning, 
Miss. ' ' He fumbled in his bag and finally brought 
out several envelopes of assorted sizes. 

Alice took them anxiously and sorted them hur- 
riedly. To her great relief and joy she saw that 
one from France was in Gilbert's handwriting, 
another in Peter's. She thanked Mr. Hotchkiss 
and turned back towards the house. She had left 
Aunt Matilda and Aunt Seraphina sitting on the 
terrace. 

"See what I've got I" she said, as she crossed 
the lawn and hurried to them. "A letter from 
Gilbert and one from Peter, and there's another 
for you." She seated herself on the footstool at 
Aunt Matilda's feet, and scanned her brother's 
letter. "I haven't finished reading it myself 
yet," she explained, "but I'll start at the begin- 
ning again, ' ' and she read : 

"Dear Old Cricket, 

"It's been a long, and for me a very exciting time 
since I last wrote. IVe done a lot of things that I 
can 't write you about, but some day 1 11 tell you, though 
you'll hardly believe me, and I think I can see your 



TWO LETTERS 57 

« 

eyes growing wider in wonder even now as I write, dear 
old Cricket ! 

- "I suppose you've read in the papers that we at- 
tacked Zandre the other day, and all about the way we 
joined the plucky little Belgians, and drove the Huns 
out, and had everything pretty well our own way. But 
I'll bet you didn't read that a very little girl in a black 
smock and sabots was the cause of our doing it, and 
deserves all the credit. There, does that make you 
curious? 

"Of course, it does. Well, I can't give you many 
facts, but her name was Marieken, and she is only four- 
teen (and doesn't look over ten), and she has done more 
brave things in these past months than you can shake a 
stick at, among others, saving my life at odd intervals. 
She was wounded in the end, worse luck, and she's now 
resting back of the lines, and I hope getting well. 
There's something you can do for me if you will. I 
know the Mater's too busy, and you could do it better 
any way, because you were a kid too, not so very long 
ago. Send me a white dress for Marieken, with some 
blue ribbons on it. It's the only thing she wants, as 
far as I can find out. While she was delirious, after 
she was wounded, you know, she talked of nothing else, 
so she must really long for it don't you think? 

"Do what you can, and as soon as you can, but don't 
get too flimsy an affair. You know what I mean. She's 
not at all a fluffy sort of child. Love to Cousin Matilda 
and Seraphina. (I hear Peter's out here, good for 
him) and an extra share for little Cricket. 

"Gibbie." 

"Well!" Alice looked at the letter and then at 



58 ALICE BLYTHE 

her aunts. "Did you ever hear anything so per- 
fectly thrilling! She must have been most aw- 
fully brave for Gib to rave so. ' ' 

"I can't imagine a young girl saving Gilbert's 
life. How do you suppose she did it; it's most 
extraordinary," Aunt Seraphina said. 

"Poor little thing," Aunt Matilda murmured. 
"Now why didn't Gilbert tell us how she was 
wounded." 

"I'll have to get the dress straight off," Alice 
went on excitedly ; " I suppose a white linen would 
be best, with a smart blue belt. If I could only 
see her, I'd be able to tell so much better what to 
get. But gracious," she exclaimed, "I was for- 
getting Peter's letter." 

She selected another envelope addressed in a 
very scrawly hand, and opened it hurriedly. 

"Dear Old Girl," (she began) 

"I've brought down my first enemy plane, and though 
I wouldn't admit it to any one but you, I'm feeling 
deucedly cocky. It was no end of sport, and I did wish 
you were with me, which reminds me. — Why don't you 
come out? There's lot of work that girls can do around 
the hospitals, and there are any amount of them here. 
Come along! It would be ripping to have you within 
easy flying distance. Don't read the Major this scrawl, 
because I wasn't really ordered to bring down that 



TWO LETTERS 59 

machine, and he'd think I'd been disobeying orders, and 
don't expect me to bring one down every week or so 
either, because such a piece of luck as I've had only 
happens once in an age. 

"Peter." 

P. S. "Isn't it ripping to think that some of the 
American troops ar6 really here?" 

Alice stopped and looked out over the garden, 
her eyes sparkling. Her thoughts were soaring, 
and in fancy she was with Peter again in an aero- 
plane, only this time they were chasing a German 
machine. 

A profound sigh from Aunt Matilda, and a whis- 
pered "Dear Peter!" from Aunt Seraphina 
brought her back with a start. 

She left the rest of the mail on the table after 
hastily scanning a note from her mother, written 
to tell her that they had received news from Gil- 
bert. 

"I think I'll go for a ride, Auntie," she said, 
getting up, "I'm too excited to sit still, and it's 
such a wonderful day. ' ' 

Aunt Matilda nodded and she hurried to the 
stable. 

She drove to Mystery Meadow and stopped in 
her accustomed place. There was not a cloud in 



60 ALICE BLYTHE 

the blue sky above her. She looked up instinc- 
tively, but there was no sign of the familiar little 
speck. Two thoughts kept running through her 
brain. 

"If a girl of fourteen can do so much, why 
can't I," was one of them, and the other was the 
sentence from Peter's letter: "Why don't you 
come out here!" 

They were neither of them suited to the peaceful 
dreamy summer day, but they filled Alice 's whole 
afternoon to the exclusion of all other thoughts. 



m 



CHAPTER VI 

MB. MUGGINS, AGITATOE 

IN spite of the fact that Alice made a momen- 
tous decision on that particular afternoon, 
nothing eventful happened at Little Petstone 
for the following week. And to make matters 
worse, it rained, not a good, steady, honest rain 
that beats down hard for a little while and then 
stops, but a mean whimpering drizzle. 

Alice stayed indoors most of the time, and spent 
hours staring out of the windows at the dreary 
gardens, and trying to form some plan that would 
make possible her firm resolve. But she was 
forced to abandon each new idea after weighing it 
carefully, and by the end of the week she had al- 
most given up the decision itself. But Saturday 
dawned bright and clear, and with the sun her 
hopes revived. After luncheon she walked to- 
wards the stable, with the intention of taking out 
the car. She felt that a visit to Mystery Meadow 
might help to blow the cobwebs out of her brain. 

61 



62 ALICE BLYTHE 

She nodded to Andrew on her way, and was sur- 
prised to hear him speak to her. 

"The morn's morning ' to ye, Miss," he said, 
the Scotch burr making his words almost unin- 
telligible. 

"Good morning, Andrew, it's nice to see the sun 
again, isn't it?" Alice said in reply. 

"Weel, I couldna say that exactly." The old 
man was giving the subject his gravest considera- 
tion. "In a manner o' speaMn' it is, I'll grant 
ye, but on the ither hand it 's no ' sa gude. ' ' 

"But why?" Alice asked wonder ingly. "Isn't 
the garden wet enough? — it looks perfectly 
drenched." 

Andrew regarded her pityingly. 

"It's no' the garden I'm referring to," he said 
patiently; "the sun, if it doesna come 'oot too 
strong will dae the flures gude." 

"Then?" Alice looked inquiringly at him and 
waited. 

Andrew spoke so rarely that she felt he must 
have something very important to say. 

"There's ither things foreby flures," he said, 
1 ■ there 's men. ' ' Then as if the conversation were 
ended he went back to his digging. 



ME. MUGGINS, AGITATOR 63 

Alice did not move. She and Peter had learned 
long ago the only method of making Andrew talk. 
She pretended interest in a rosebush. There was 
a long moment of silence, then, "Hen and slack- 
ers." He took up his theme as though he had 
never left off. "There's a puir body doon i' the 
village that calls himsel Meester Muggins — do ye 
ken him?" Alice nodded. She knew the man by 
sight, and she remembered her aunts saying long 
ago that he was no credit to the village. 

"Ye do?" 

Another nod from Alice. 

"Weel then I'm verra sorra for ye," Andrew 
said sternly. 

"What's Mister Muggins done?" Alice asked 
gently. "He doesn't live here any longer, does 
he!" 

"Not in a manner o' speakin'," Andrew re- 
plied, "and it's no' what he's done, it's what he is 
— he's — " he paused to emphasize the words — 
"he's an agitator, that's what Meester Muggins 
is." 

"Oh, is that all?" Alice laughed. "I thought 
he was a German spy at least. But what's Mr. 
Muggins got to do wth the weather?" she in- 



64 ALICE BLYTHE 

quired, remembering the topic that led to the dis- 
cussion. 

"Did ye ever ken an agitator that didna hae a 
powerfu' secht o' words ?" Answering a ques- 
tion by asking another is a Scotch trait and Alice 
was used to it in Andrew. 

"No," she said, "they all talk a lot." 

"Weel, Meester Muggins is no exception," An- 
drew continued, * ' and to-day being Saturday, and 
fine to boot, he intends talkin' frae a soap box for 
the edification o ' Little Petstone. 'Twill be a sad 
secht, I'm thinkin\" He sighed profoundly. "I 
dinna ken what we're coming tae when an ill- 
faured creeter like that is allowed to talk against 
the Government, instead of fechtin' for it. Not 
that this particular man will last verra much 
longer," he added calmly. 

"Why not? What's going to happen to him?" 
Alice inquired. 

Andrew smiled, a grim smile of satisfaction it 
was, with only a hint of humor in it. 

"Weel, ye see, he was telling me the ither nicht 
that after he had converted England, he was goin' 
to tak' a trip up to Scotland, and I'm thinkin' that 
once over the border — " the pause that followed 



MR. MUGGINS, AGITATOR 65 

was more eloquent than words. Andrew's shoul- 
ders shook, and he smacked his lips in anticipation 
of the doom that awaited the erring Mr. Muggins. 

It was not until Alice was halfway to the village 
that she realized that he had failed to trace the 
connection between the weather and the agitator. 

"I suppose he meant that there 'd be fewer to 
listen to him if it rained,' ■ she said to herself, "but 
it's hard to be sure about Andrew," and she 
laughed. 

She noticed that there was more than the usual 
Saturday afternoon activity in the village, as she 
drew up before Miss Sweet's Notion Shop, and 
stopped her car. The people were all standing 
about the blacksmith's as if they were waiting for 
something. There was only a handful of people 
in Little Petstone, but they seemed to have gath- 
ered in one spot, and the effect was quite like a 
crowd. She did not leave her seat, but watched 
to see what would happen. 

Before very long a man, dressed in a brown 
suit with a flower in his buttonhole, got out of a 
buggy and forced his way to the center of the 
crowd. Alice recognized him as Mr. Muggins, 
once of Little Petstone, but now of London. The 



66 ALICE BLYTHE 

village people were suddenly silent, and Mr. Mug- 
gins ' voice, husky from much talking, sounded 
from their midst. 

Alice sat spellbound at first, and listened. The 
orator wasted no words, he began at once to de- 
nounce war. He denounced it in the name of 
everything he could think of, and he predicted the 
downfall of England in words so moving t 1, 
should have brought tears to his hearers 
For the downfall of the country he blamec tne 
Government. When he spoke of several p oini- 
nent men, and traced their resemblance to some of 
the tyrants of old, Mr. Gubber took it upon him- 
self to protest. 

u That '11 do, young man," he said firmly; "I'm 
a law-abiding citizen, and I believe every man has 
a right to speak his mind, but I've a son 'Over 
There,' serving his country and I won't have a 
word said against the Government, on my prop- 
erty." 

Mr. Gubber was a large man with a powerful 
forearm, and as a rule his word was law in Little 
Petstone. Alice waited to see the crowd disperse, 
but to her surprise they did not move. Mr. Mug- 
gins started to speak again; his tone was a little 



MR. MUGGINS, AGITATOR 67 

less strident, but encouraged by the support of 
his audience he held up Mr. Gubber as an ex- 
ample. 

' ' He 's proved what I said, ' ' he shouted ; ' * hasn 't 
the Government taken 'is only son?" There was 
a murmur of assent, and he continued, "I tell you 
this w Wr is being fought by poor men 's sons, while 
the g'<iiry sit at 'ome and drink their tea." 

zii waited to hear no more. She started her 
car, honked her horn furiously and drove straight 
into tne crowd before her, almost hitting the soap 
box on which Mr. Muggins was standing. 

"There's not a word of truth in what that man's 
saying," she exclaimed, standing up on her seat, 
"not one word, and every one of you ought to be 
ashamed of yourself to listen to such rubbish. 
You all know as well as I do that every man that 
isn't a slacker is fighting to-day." She paused 
long enough to look meaningly at Mr. Muggins. 
"And they're all fighting side by side. Mr. Gub- 
ber," she spoke directly to the blacksmith. "I 
meant to tell you and your wife," Mrs. Gubber 
curtesied respectfully, "that when I went up to 
London to see Lieutenant St. John off, I saw your 
son. He's in the same company with Mister 



68 ALICE BLYTHE 

Peter, you know, and he looked perfectly splendid 
in his uniform." 

Mr. Gubber's chest expanded with pride, and 
his wife said excitedly: "Oh, did you, Miss, 
thank you, Miss, I take it as very kind of you, 
Miss. "We hear grand news of Mister Peter in 
Alf 's letters, beggin' your pardon, Miss," and the 
flattered little woman looked haughtily at Mr. 
Muggins. 

There was a low murmur of laughter through 
the crowd, and Henry's cockney voice demanded: 

" 'Old h'on a minute and let's 'ear what Mister 
h 'Edward Muggins 'as got to sye to that." 

Mr. Muggins, very red in the face by now, 
cleared his throat and coughed. "Mr. St. John 
, is only one," he replied defiantly, "and I'm will- 
ing to grant he's an exception." 

"He is not," Alice denied hotly; "there's my 
brother, Captain Blythe, and Lieutenant Hunt, 
that you all know. Just stop and think for a 
minute, there isn't one boy in this neighborhood 
that hasn't answered his country's call, and we 
ought to be proud of it. Many of them have been 
killed, but they died like brave Englishmen." 
There was an expressive pause before she con- 



ME. MUGGINS, AGITATOR 69 

tinued. "No, Mister Muggins, you can't talk 
such rot in Little Petstone, and expect us to be- 
lieve you, because we know that the only men who 
have time to sit at home and drink tea in these 
days are men who, instead of fighting, go about 
the country making silly speeches from soap 
boxes." 

A cheer went up from the crowd. The old men 
shouted ' ' Hear ! Hear ! and the women, who were 
in the majority, clapped their hands delightedly. 

"What price Mr. Muggins, now?" Henry de- 
manded jeeringly. 

Alice smiled triumphantly as she looked at her 
opponent, then the unconventionally of her posi- 
tion struck her. "What would the Aunts say?" 
She was just beginning to feel a little uncomfort- 
able when the cheering suddenly stopped, and she 
heard a voice exclaiming: 

"Bless my soul; what's this? — most extraordi- 
nary — bless my soul! Why, it's Alice," and she 
looked down to see the Major pushing his way 
towards her through the crowd. 



M 



CHAPTER VII 

A WIEE FOE THE MAJOR 

"T% /fY dear child, what does this mean?" 
demanded the Major, as he put his 
foot on the running board of the car. 
There was a twinkle in his eyes, but he tried to 
make his voice sound stern. 

Alice attempted to explain. She pointed to Mr. 
Muggins who was at that moment busily untying 
his horse. 

"He said such awful things, Major, that I sim- 
ply couldn't stand listening to them, so I just 
pointed out how foolish his statements were, and, 
well, I had to stand up on the seat so that I could 
be heard.' ' 

"Bless my soul!" the Major began again, but 
Alice would not let him get any further. 

"I think I have convinced them that he was 
talking rot," she said hurriedly, "so, of course, 
there's no reason to stay any longer. I've a few 

71 



72 ALICE BLYTHE 

errands to do, but if you can wait I'd love to drive 
you home. You walked, didn't you!" 

' ' You, you little vixen ! ' ' The Major laughed in 
spite of himself, "if you think you can get out of 
it. so easily as that you're mistaken. What do 
you suppose the aunts are going to say," he de- 
manded on the way home, "when I tell them I 
found you standing on the seat of your car mak- 
ing a speech in opposition to Mr. Muggins, while 
all Little Petstone cheered you? Bless my soul! 
It was the most astonishing sight I ever wit- 
nessed; I couldn't believe my eyes." 

"They aren't going to say anything, Major 
dear, because you aren't going to tell them," Alice 
replied coaxingly. "You see they wouldn't un- 
derstand, and you do." 

"Oh, I do, eh!" The Major chuckled. 

"Yes, of course. You wouldn't have wanted 
me to let those poor old people believe the per- 
fectly awful things that dreadful man was telling 
them ; now would you ? It — it wouldn 't have been 
patriotic," she explained. 

"Hum, well, maybe not," the Major admitted, 
"but look here, Alice, don't do it again; it's not 
ladylike, you know. I know it's done, but well, 



A WIRE FOR THE MAJOR 73 

I've always thought of you as sort of an old- 
fashioned girl, and I 'd hate to see you filling your 
head with new-fangled notions." 

Alice ground her teeth, and experienced the 
same feeling of rage common to all girls when the 
words " old-fashioned, ' ' or "ladylike" are applied 
to them. It is not that the girl of to-day doesn't 
want to be ladylike and old-fashioned, but there 
is something in the use of the words that ruffles 
the temper. Alice wanted to explain that it was 
quite possible to make a speech and be ladylike 
and even old-fashioned at the same time, but she 
knew the Major would not understand, so she very 
wisely dropped the subject and talked about Peter. 

When they reached the Chetwoods' they found 
Muriel and her aunt on the lawn, and Mrs. Chet- 
wood insisted that Alice stay for tea. 

"We've seen so little of you, my dear, for the 
past week," she said. "Of course the weather's 
been wretched. What have you been doing with 
yourself!" 

"Not much," Alice replied, dropping into a 
wicker chair and taking off her hat. "I went up 
to London for a day or so and did something for 
Gilbert, you'd never guess what." 



74 ALICE BLYTHE 

"Tell us," Muriel begged; "isn't it perfectly 
thrilling to think you Ve heard from him ! ' ' 

"I bought a white linen dress for a little girl," 
Alice explained, and told them as much as she 
knew about Marieken. 

"Sounds ripping, doesn't it?" she ended; 
"makes me feel awfully useless." 

"I know," Muriel agreed, "there's no chance 
over here to do anything very exciting. ' ' 

"Oh, you can't complain. Look at all the clubs 
you belong to," Alice reminded her, "you're 
knitting all the time, and you're always doing 
something useful, while I — well, I'm so big and 
clumsy and so detestably young that I 'm no good 
for anything." 

She spoke so feelingly that the Major eyed her 
suspiciously. 

Mrs. Chetwood laughed. "Haven't you fin- 
ished the wristlets yet, dear?" she inquired. 

* ' No, not quite, but if Aunt Seraphina gives me 
very many more * little helps, just to start me 
fresh,' they will be finished in spite of me," Alice 
laughed. 

"I wish you'd join our Soldiers' Entertainment 
Committee," Muriel said. "We have no end of 



A WIRE FOR THE MAJOR 75 

a lark getting up plays, and they do enjoy it so." 

"No, thanks," Alice was firm in her refusal. 
"I want to do something that takes lots of strength 
and all my time, but, of course, Dad and Mother 
won't hear of it. They think that because I was 
just a kid when the war started I'm still a 
kid now. They don't realize that you can grow a 
lot in three years. But don 't let 's talk about me, ' ' 
she added hastily as the Major said with a sly 
wink, ' ' You might go out recruiting, my dear. ' ■ 

Alice pretended not to hear. "Tell me what 
you're doing, Muriel. How are all those Tom- 
mies you've adopted?" she asked. 

The subject occupied them for the rest of the 
time, and Alice had risen to go, when Potter, the 
Chetwoods ' butler, came out to say that the Major 
was wanted on the 'phone. 

"It's the Telegraph office, sir, and I can't make 
out a word they say." 

The Major hurried to the house and returned 
just as Alice was climbing into her car. 

"Silly idiot," he fumed, "can't even read a wire 
and make sense out of it. Why that man Cherry 
was ever put in charge of a Telegraph station, I'm 
sure I don't know. He's about as fit for — " 



76 ALICE BLYTHE 

"What is it, my dear?" Mrs. Chetwood inter- 
rupted mildly. 

"I've been trying to tell you, haven't I?" the 
Major replied. "There's a telegram at the sta- 
tion for me from the War Office, and because it's 
Saturday they can't send it, and that man Cherry 
can 't read it, so that I can make it out I ' ' 

Alice could not help laughing. 

"I'll go down and get it for you, Major," she 
offered, "it won't take me long." 

And before any one had time to protest she was 
spinning down the road at a rate that far exceeded 
the speed regulations of Little Petstone. She had 
not boasted in vain when she promised not to be 
long, for in an incredibly short time she was back 
and the Major was tearing open the message. 

Major Chetwood, though an old man, and long 
retired from the Army, had in his day been an 
authority on some subjects, and no one was sur- 
prised to hear that he had been called suddenly to 
London on a matter of grave importance, which 
was to be discussed that night. 

"You must go at once, my dear. I'll tell Pot- 
ter to pack your bag," Mrs. Chetwood said. 

"Go!" stormed the Major, "of course, I must 



A WIRE FOR THE MAJOR 77 

go, but how? This wire came this morning, 
there's the time marked to prove it, and I get it 
after tea, when the last London train has gone. 
A nice kettle of fish ! How am I going to be there 
on time? It's not possible, even if I drive over 
to the Junction. No, I will have to stay here and 
twiddle my thumbs while a lot of men who know 
nothing about the subject make a mess of things 
at that meeting." 

"No, you won't," Alice said unexpectedly; "if 
it's a very important meeting, and you really 
must be there, I'll drive you up in the car." 

"All the way to London?" Muriel demanded in- 
credulously. 

"You couldn't do it, my dear, it's too late. It's 
sweet of you to offer," Mrs. Chetwood said nerv- 
ously, "but it's out of the question; it wouldn't 
be safe." 

Alice looked at the Major. 

"By Jove, it's my only chance," he said slowly. 
"Do you think you can make it, Alice?" 

"Sure of it." 

"Then tell Potter to pack my bag." The Ma- 
jor turned to his wife, and Alice started the car. 

"I'll go tell Auntie and get a supply of petrol, 



78 ALICE BLYTHE 

and be back in fifteen minntes," she called over 
her shoulder. 

Aunt Matilda and Aunt Seraphina held up their 
hands in horror, a few minutes later, when Alice 
explained what she was going to do ; but when she 
laid great stress on the importance of the Major's 
getting to London on time they were forced to 
give in. 

She snatched up a coat on her way to the stable, 
and called to Andrew, "Fill my tank, will you?" 
Andrew, methodical as ever, obeyed. "And I 
guess I'd better carry another shoe for luck." 
She moved about the stable, hurriedly, and it was 
not many minutes before she was back in her seat 
again. 

"Wish me luck," she said as she started the 
car. "I'm off for London, — and oh, Andrew," 
she called back as she swung around the curve of 
the house, "Mr. Muggins won't bother Little Pet- 
stone any more. I rather think he's headed 
north." 



CHAPTER VIII 

THE BIDE TO TOWN 

MAJOR CHETWOOD was waiting for 
her on the lawn, and Alice noticed with 
a smile that he was trying to soothe his 
wife 's fears. 

"All aboard!" she laughed as she drew up at 
the front steps and opened the car door. 

The Major climbed gingerly in, and Potter set- 
tled his heavy Gladstone bag at his feet. Alice 
nodded and the car started slowly. . 

"Good-by, my dear," the Major said to his 

wife, * ' now don 't be foolish enough to worry. I '11 

wire you from town. What did the aunts say, 

'eh? " he demanded of Alice as they rolled along the 

smooth driveway. 

"Not much. I'm afraid they're a bit worried, 
but when they see me back to-morrow, right as 
rain, they won't mind," Alice replied. 

She let the car out a little as they reached the 
highway, slowed down carefully as they passed 

79 



80 , ALICE BLYTHE 

through the village, and gradually increased their 
speed until, by the time that they reached the open 
country, they were going so fast that the meadows 
and trees were no more than a confused blur in 
the sunset. 

"Is there any need for such haste, my dear?" 
the Major asked nervously, as they slowed down 
for a crossing. 

"It's nearly seventy miles to town, sir," Alice 
replied shortly, ' ' and it 's after six. ' ' 

The Major did not speak again. He clutched 
the side of his seat, braced his feet against the 
footrail and closed his eyes. He expected to 
plunge to a sudden death at any moment, and the 
thought that he would meet his end while hasten- 
ing to serve his country was only a slight comfort. 
There were times when he thought none too kindly 
of Cherry the Station Master, and he prayed to 
be saved, if only on his account. 

Alice meanwhile was enjoying herself hugely. 
Racing through the country at top speed was only 
a little less exciting than flying with Peter, and 
the added knowledge that she had a really im- 
portant reason for doing it added to the thrill of 
the adventure. 



THE RIDE TO TOWN 81 

When they crossed over to Surrey she switched 
on her lights. It was just eight o 'clock when they 
reached the outskirts of London, and she slowed 
the car down to a moderate speed. She had never 
driven in town before, and she did not want to 
take any chances now that the end of their jour- 
ney was in sight. There was little traffic to im- 
pede their way, but she did not attempt to ex- 
ceed the speed limit. 

The sight of the pavements, and the regularity 
of the dimmed arc lamps seemed to reassure the 
Major, and he relaxed a little and attempted to 
straighten his cravat. 

"Where do you want me to put you down, sir?" 
Alice inquired. i 1 1 forgot to ask where the meet- 
ing was?" 

"I think you'd better take me to my club, my 
dear," the Major replied. "My papers are there, 
and I've an extra hat. This cap is hardly the 
correct thing for this time of day, and I really 
must wash my face, you know. It must be quite 
black." 

Alice nodded, and did not speak again until they 
had skirted St. James Park, and entered the little 
section of London known as Club Land. She drew 



82 ALICE BLYTHE 

up beside the curb in front of one of the big square 
buildings. 

"Here we are, Major, and I hope you won't be 
very late," she said cheerfully. 

The Major turned and looked at her, and al- 
though it was too dark for him to see the smile that 
lurked in the corners of her mouth, he knew it 
was there. 

"Alice," he said gravely, "I ought to be very 
grateful to you, but I 'm inclined to box your ears. 
I have spent some of the most terrifying hours 
of my life, and you needn't pretend you don't 
know it, you little vixen," he added chuckling. 
"I suppose I needn't ask you if you can get home 
safely. I'll call around in the morning and see 
you. And now, good-night. I must try to collect 
my scattered wits. ' ' 

" Good-night, " Alice laughed. "Of course 
you'll go back in the car with me to-morrow?" 
she added. 

"I will not, indeed," the Major denied; "that 
would be expecting too much of Providence. I 
will return to Little Petstone by train." 

Alice watched his shaking shoulders until the 
club door closed behind him, and then drove slowly 



THE RIDE TO TOWN 83 

home. The streets were unnaturally dark, and 
only an occasional arc lamp pierced the gloom. 
She leaned back in her seat and looked up at the 
stars. No lights showed through the drawn win- 
dow-shades, and the house loomed black against 
the sky. She half expected to hear the warning 
buzz of a German Zeppelin ; it would have been a 
fitting ending to her day, but nothing broke the 
unnatural stillness. She hoped to reach home and 
find both her parents out ; it would be easier to ex- 
plain her sudden arrival in the morning. She 
could trust Jenkins to take her car to the garage 
and say nothing. She slowed up in front of the 
house and stopped. 

"It certainly looks deserted,' ■ she said to her- 
self, and got out hurriedly. She was just cross- 
ing the pavement when to her dismay the front 
door opened and a man came down the steps. She 
saw that it was Dr. Jepson, a very clever surgeon, 
and a great friend of her brother. He was home 
on sick leave from the Front and spent a good 
deal of his time at the Blythes' home. He and 
Alice were old friends. 

"Hello, Michael," she said, holding out her 
hand, "where are you going to in such a hurry?" 



84 ALICE BLYTHE 

Dr. Jepson stared in astonishment. "I say, 
Cricket, am I balmy, or is it really you?" he de- 
manded. 

"Yes, it is truly me," Alice sometimes disre- 
garded the rules of grammar. 

"Well, is it permitted to inquire what you're 
doing out here in the middle of the night ?" 

Alice laughed. 

"Don't exaggerate, Michael, it's only a little 
after nine, and I've run up from little Pep- 
stone." 

"Alone!" Michael demanded. 

"No, I just dropped the Major at his club. He 
had a very important wire about tea time, and you 
see the last train had left, and he really had to 
get here, because the meeting was awfully im- 
portant, so I just ran him up in Gilbert 's car. ' ' 

"You ran him up! Did you say the wire came 
at tea time?" 

Alice nodded. 

"Then, my dear girl, you raced him up, not 
ran," Michael corrected her. 

"Well, we did go a bit fast. You see there 
wasn't much traffic on the road, and — " Alice 
was trying hard to make light of the trip. 



THE RIDE TO TOWN 85 

" Rather fortunate for the traffic," Michael said 
dryly. 

" Let's go back to the dining room and talk 
about it, you must be awfully hungry." 

"I am," Alice agreed, "but — er, are Dad and 
Mother home?" 

"No, I dined with your mother, but she left 
right after dinner to go to some meeting or other, 
and your father's been out all day. I stayed to 
hunt up something in one of his books, and wrote 
some letters at his desk." Michael explained as 
they mounted the steps. 

The astonished Jenkins opened the door for 
them, and Alice sent him off to drive the car to the 
garage, after he had brought her a tray from the 
kitchen. 

Michael watched her eat, and smiled to himself. 

"You've grown up awfully suddenly, Cricket," 
he said at last. "Why, it seems like yesterday 
that your hair was down your back." 

Alice nodded. 

"Mother and Dad still think it is, that's why I'm 
kept a baby, and not allowed to do anything," she 
said. 

* ' What do you want to do ? " Michael inquired. 



86 ALICE BLYTHE 

Alice looked at him seriously for a few minutes, 
and then said impulsively: "I want to go to 
France, Michael, and I believe you could help me 
win Dad over, if you only would." 

Dr. Jepson whistled, but he saw by Alice's face 
that she was very serious. 

"I might at that, Cricket," he replied slowly. 
"I am going over myself next week, — M 

"Come into the Library," Alice interrupted ex- 
citedly, "we can talk better there." 

Michael did not leave the Blythes' until an hour 
later, and when he did, Alice had his solemn 
promise that he would say what he could to per- 
suade her parents to let her go out with his Unit 
the following week. 

After he left she went up to her room with a 
smile of satisfaction. She was just ready to climb 
into bed when her father returned. She heard 
him cross the hall and stop at the bottom of the 
stairs, then he called, "Cricket, come down here," 
and his voice sounded very stern. 

Alice slipped on a dressing gown and stood be- 
fore him a few minutes later in the Library. 

"I happened to drop in at the club and met the 



THE RIDE TO TOWN 87 

Major," he said after a silence that had lasted for 
a long time ; then he laughed. 

"Cricket, you ought not to have offered to drive 
him in, and you know it. And when I think of 
the time you made it in — well, it's a wonder you're 
not both dead." 

"But, Dad, he simply had to get here, and there 
was no other way," Alice replied gently, "and 
you know I 'm pretty used to driving the car now. ' ' 

"Yes, so I hear," Dr. Blythe looked at his 
daughter. 

It may truly be said that it was the first time 
he had an opportunity to give her more than a 
glance since the beginning of the war. And he 
thought she looked very tall and strong as she 
stood before him in her white dressing gown. 

"It's my fault," he said at last, and paused. 
"The Major told me about the speech this after- 
noon, too," he added smiling. 

"Well, I don't think that was very nice of him," 
Alice exclaimed, "after I got him here in time for 
his old meeting, too. Wait till I see him." 

Her father laughed appreciatively, then he said 
gravely, 



88 ALICE BLYTHE 

"Upon my soul, Cricket, I don't know what to 
do about you.' * 

He stood up and put his arm around her. 

"But it's too late to decide to-night, isn't it? 
So you'd better run along back to bed." 

Alice kissed him. 

"I'll tell you what to do, Daddy," she said 
gayly. "Ask Michael Jepson's advice to-morrow 
morning, and do just what he tells you." 

"Michael! what does he know about it?" Dr. 
Blythe looked bewildered; but his daughter was 
half way up the stairs, and she did not stop to ex- 
plain. 



CHAPTER IX 

OFF TO FBA2TCE 

THE week that followed was a busy one even 
for war times. There were discussions 
and consultations that lasted late into the 
night, behind the closed door of the Blythes' li- 
brary. Alice, tossing in bed upstairs in her own 
room, waited for the final decision, and sometimes 
felt that every one but herself was to have a hand 
in her ultimate destiny. She put her faith in 
Michael, and the results proved that she had not 
trusted him in vain. For Michael did succeed in 
winning her wish for her in spite of all opposition. 
"She's determined to go, sir, so why not let 
her?" he said to Dr. Blythe. "We can arrange 
easily enough, you know that. I'll take her along 
as my clerk, or something. Once over, you know, 
even at a Base Hospital, she'll see enough terrible 
sights to make her want to come back in no time." 
As this was not Michael's first trip to France he 
knew what he was talking about. 

89 



90 ALICE BLYTIIE 

"But she'll be in your way," the Doctor pro- 
tested, "and this is no time to humor a child's 
whim." 

Michael interrupted. "There's plenty to do, 
and I can promise you she'll really be useful while 
she's there. And of course as my clerk I can keep 
an eye on her officially, and Lady Harden will do 
the rest." 

Lady Harden was a friend of Mrs. Blythe's, 
and in charge of the Base Hospital to which 
Michael was going. 

"By the time I'm fit to go back to the front 
dressing stations, she '11 be ready and glad enough 
to come home. See if she isn't," Michael added. 
He argued so well that at last the Doctor and Mrs. 
Blythe gave in. 

"Eemember, it's your doing," the Doctor said 
at last; and Michael left the house feeling very 
much like a man who suddenly finds himself hold- 
ing on to a bomb with the fuse lit, without being 
able to drop it. 

He saw little of Alice in the days that followed, 
for he was very busy and she went down to Little 
Petstone to say good-by to the aunts. 

It was not until the Channel steamer had left 



OFF TO FRANCE 91 

the dock that they had time to take stock of each 
other. They were standing side by side on the 
deck at the stern of the boat, to get the last glimpse 
of the white cliffs of Dover, when Alice said im- 
pulsively: "I say, Michael, you're no end of a 
good sport. I haven't had a chance to thank you 
properly, but you understand I'm most awfully 
grateful, don't you?" 

The Doctor laughed. "Nonsense, Cricket, you 
know you always get your own way in the end. I 
just happened to speed things up this time, and 
well — I'm blessed if I know why I did it." 

"But Michael, you're not sorry I'm going, are 
you?" Alice asked, a hurt note in her voice. 

"No, of course I'm not." The Doctor was 
quick to reply. "That is, if you'll promise to be 
good and not get into too much trouble when I 
happen to be busy. ' ' 

"Why, I won't have time to get into trouble," 
Alice protested, and then as she saw the worried 
expression on the Doctor's face, she said seri- 
ously: "Michael, you and I have got to come to 
an understanding. I thought you realized that I 
— well, no matter what I thought, I can see now 
that you just did this to let me have my own way, 



92 ALICE BLYTHE 

and you don't think that I'm going to be any 
earthly use over there. ' ' She paused and pointed 
an accusing finger. "I suppose you think I'll get 
tired of it in a little while and want to go home. 
Well, you'll see how wrong you are." 

Michael did not contradict. She had read his 
inmost thoughts, and he was embarrassed. 

"I'm going to work hard," Alice continued. "I 
can scrub floors if I can't do anything else." 

"But you're going in the official capacity of my 
clerk," Michael protested, grinning. 

"Bot," Alice replied shortly; "you know per- 
fectly well, Michael Jepson, that you never had a 
clerk and never wanted one. Of course, if you in- 
sist I am perfectly willing to try to keep your 
records for you, and I'll feed all those caged mi- 
crobes you're taking over, if you like." 

* * Heaven forbid ! ' ' Michael exclaimed. * ' Don 't 
you dare try it. I never let any one monkey with 
my records, and as for my new serum — " 

"Well, then?" Alice inquired calmly. 

Michael shrugged his shoulders in despair. 

"Oh, scrub your floors, wash dishes, do any- 
thing, I won't interfere," he said laughing. "In 
other words, Cricket, have your own way. Only 



OFF TO FRANCE 93 

promise me that you won 't do anything very out- 
rageous." 

Alice held out her hand and sighed, a deep sigh 
of contentment. "I'll promise, Michael. I only 
wanted to be sure that you wouldn't interfere if 
a really truly chance came for me to do something 
worth while. And now that it's settled let's go 
see what the others are doing." 

They walked forward and entered the cabin. 

Dr. Jepson was in charge of a Unit, composed of 
a few nurses who were going out for the first time, 
some stretcher-bearers returning after a rest in 
England, and several other people who filled vari- 
ous clerical positions. Alice did not like any of 
them particularly. The nurses were all older than 
she was by several years, and she had an absurd 
notion that they all knew she was only masquerad- 
ing ; so she stayed beside Michael and gripped his 
arm tightly as the French coast came into sight. 

There was a special train waiting at Calais to 
take them south to their Base, but it was several 
hours before all the formalities, the necessary ex- 
aminations and preparations were over, and they 
were ready to start. Dr. Jepson was very busy 
superintending the transfer of the luggage from 



94 ALICE BLYTHE 

the boat to the train. Alice waited for him under 
a shed by the door. There were several boxes of 
supplies there and she selected one to sit on. She 
was alone and had time to look about her. Apart 
from the men in khaki, and the general state of 
desertion she did not see anything that looked at 
all like war. 

Then the rumble of a train made her start, and 
for a second she thought that the others had gone 
on and left her; but she saw Michael, hot and 
dusty, a little way down the dock, and settled her- 
self once more on the packing box. But in a few 
moments she sat up very straight and looked hard 
before her. She could scarcely believe her ears 
or her eyes. She heard singing at first, and then 
saw a long procession of stretcher-bearers come 
into view from around the station shed. Each 
pair carried a wounded soldier. Alice caught her 
breath as she looked. Men with their faces band- 
aged, men with their arms in slings, some whose 
faces were disfigured hideously, some who would 
never walk again. They all filed past her, their 
eyes fastened on the gray hospital ship that was 
tied up beside the dock, and they were all doing 
their best to sing. 



OFF TO FRANCE 95 

Alice watched them being carried on board with- 
out moving. She had seen plenty of wounded sol- 
diers in the London hospitals, but they always 
looked quite comfortable in their white cots. 
These men were different, they carried the spirit 
of war with them. She wanted to cheer, but there 
was an unaccountable lump in her throat, and she 
couldn 't. It was partly the sight of the stretchers 
that affected her — she had never seen men carried 
on stretchers before, — but it was mostly the sound 
of their singing. There were only a handful of 
men, and they were singing because they were 
going back to " Blighty,* ■ but it was the first time 
Alice had come face to face with the dauntless 
spirit that is so characteristic of the soldier to- 
day, and it gave her something to think about. 
She hardly heard Michael's cheery, "Come along, 
Cricket," as he hurried her to the train. And all 
through the tiresome trip that followed — they 
were shut up in a hot, stuffy compartment, the 
windows closed tight and the blinds down, — she 
kept thinking of those wounded men, and the ri- 
diculous song they had tried so pluckily to sing. 



CHAPTER X 

HELEN CABEY 

THEY did not reach their destination nntil 
the afternoon of the second day. It had 
been a very slow, tedious trip, and every 
one except Alice looked thoroughly tired out on 
their arrival. 

"I say, Cricket, you're so wonderfully fit that 
it makes me angry to look at you." Dr. Jepson 
said, as they climbed into the automobiles that 
were waiting for them at the tiny little station. 

"Then don't look at me," Alice teased; "I told 
you I was a good traveler, and you wouldn't be- 
lieve it. Please tell Dad how fit I am when you 
write." 

"Well you must be tired, even if you don't look 
it," said one of the nurses crossly. 

"But I'm not," Alice denied, "I'm hungry, 

though, and I do think it's awfully jolly to see the 

sky again." 

97 



98 ALICE BLYTHE 

The nurse looked at her shining eyes and felt a 
tinge of envy. 

The hospital was an old Chateau, set in the 
midst of shady woods. There was nothing about 
it to suggest war, and Alice, as she walked through 
the great front door, felt a little impatient. Ever 
since she had seen the men on the stretchers the 
day before, her mind had been keyed to a high 
pitch, and she had been able to feel that the war 
was just around the corner; but now it seemed 
further away than ever. 

Lady Harden, who was at the head of the Hos- 
pital, was waiting in the great hall to receive them. 
She greeted each of the nurses, and sent them to 
their respective rooms in a quiet business-like way. 
Alice entered last with the Doctor, and when Lady 
Harden saw her, she smiled for the first time. 

* ' Maude 's daughter, of course, ' ' she said kindly, 
and shook Alice's hand. "I haven't just decided 
where to put you, my dear. You'll want to be 
near the Doctor's office, of course." 

"That really won't be a bit necessary," Michael 
explained hastily; "you see, I won't need Miss 
Blytne much of the time, and — " 

Alice's laughter interrupted him. She was still 



HELEN CAREY 99 

holding Lady Harden 's hand. She squeezed it 
gently as she said: "What Dr. Jepson really 
means is, that he'd much rather I'd be as far away 
from his office as possible. He's deathly afraid 
I might some day disarrange his papers.' ' 

"But, my dear, I thought I understood from the 
letter I received that you were coming out to act 
as his clerk, and take care of his records." 

Alice shook her head. 

* ' Not really, Lady Harden. I came out to work. 
I just had to get here, and one excuse was as good 
as another. Isn't there something you can give 
me to do?" 

Lady Harden looked surprised for a minute, 
and then she laughed. "Any amount of things, 
my dear," she replied. "I'm glad I understand. 
You see I thought you were coming as a sort of 
secretary and assistant to the Doctor, and well, of 
course, now I see. We 've a young American girl 
here. She 's a bit older than you are, I think, but 
she's splendid, and I know you'll like her. She's 
really doing two men's work instead of one slight 
girl's, and I'll let you help her. It's — it's rather 
hard work, you know," she added as she sent an 
orderly down to the kitchen with a message. 



100 ALICE BLYTHE 

"That's all I'm good for," Alice replied, "and 
I don't care how hard it is, so long as it's real 
work." 

Lady Harden nodded approvingly, and turned 
to Michael. 

"I'm glad you are better, Doctor, but you 
mustn't be in too great a hurry to leave us for the 
Front. I'll take over your charge from now on," 
she finished laughing. "You'll find your office at 
the end of this hall, and there's no need of your 
taking up your duties at once. We're not very 
busy just for the moment." 

Michael nodded. "Thank you, I'll go unpack, 
if you'll pardon me. And I'm awfully obliged 
about Cricket," he added. "I was beginning to 
feel rather guilty." 

He picked up his bag and hurried down the hall, 
just as a slight girl, dressed in a very soiled riding 
habit, appeared from the other direction. 

* ' Oh, here you are, ' ■ Lady Harden said. " I Ve 
found some one to help you at last. This is Miss 
Blythe, Miss Carey." 

The two girls shook hands and their eyes met 
in appraisal. 



HELEN CAREY 101 

Helen Carey was the first to speak. "I'm aw- 
fully glad you've come, ,, she said simply. 

"Take her to your room, will you please, my 
dear. For the present, she'll have to stay with 
you, ' ' Lady Harden directed. * * And now I must 
leave you. If you want anything particularly, 
Alice, I am always in my office between seven and 
nine." She smiled and walked briskly away, 
leaving the girls alone. 

"I say, I hope I'm not inconveniencing you," 
Alice said, picking up her bag. 

"Not a bit of it," Helen replied cheerfully, "my 
quarters aren't just what you'd call spacious, but 
there's an extra bed, and I'll be awfully glad to 
have some one in it. ' ' She led the way through the 
main hall of the Chateau, down a pair of stairs, out 
through a back door and across a courtyard to the 
stable. 

"Do you mean to say you live over the stable? 
How ripping!" Alice exclaimed, as she followed. 

"Well, it was the stable before the war, I sup- 
pose," Helen explained. "But it's not any more, 
it's a sort of convalescent ward on the ground 
floor, and a bunk-house up above." 



102 ALICE BLYTHE 

She led the way up a spiral staircase to a 
small room furnished with two cot beds and a 
packing box. 

Alice put down her bag, and after looking about 
her for a minute she sat down on one of the beds 
and began to laugh. 

"Thank goodness !" Helen exclaimed with re- 
lief; "the last girl I brought up here cried for 
three hours.' ' 

"Cried?" Alice inquired. "Now, why? I 
think this is just about tip-top. I suppose it was 
the stable boys' quarters once. Oh, wait till 
Michael sees it," she added, and then slowly and 
between chuckles she explained who Michael was. 
"And now," she finished, "that I've told you 
most of my life's history, will you please tell me 
what you're doing over here?" 

Helen shook her head. "If you're going to 
help me you'll find out soon enough," she replied, 
laughing. "I never worked so hard in my life." 

' ' But why did you come ? ' ' Alice insisted. ' ' Of 
course, don't tell me if you'd rather not," she 
added. 

" Oh, I '11 tell you, ' ' Helen replied, « ' but it 's hard 
to know where to start. "You see, when the war 



HELEN CAREY 103 

broke out, my brother joined, of course, and so 
did some of the other men of our outfit." 

"Outfit !" Alice inquired. 

Helen smiled and explained. 

"Oh, I see, you live on a ranch in the West. 
How perfectly exciting! I know all about them 
because, of course, I've read "The Virginian,' " 
Alice said. "Go on." 

"Well, I just naturally couldn't stand the lone- 
liness of the place after the boys left, so I made 
Dad let me go East, and take a course in First 
Aid, but — I really didn't intend coming over until 
Allen came." 

"Is Allen in your outfit?" Alice interrupted. 

Helen flushed. "No, not exactly," she replied; 
"you see I'm — engaged to him, and — " 

"Oh, I see, I'm most awfully sorry for being 
so beastly inquisitive. Do forgive me," Alice 
begged. 

"Oh, that's all right," Helen assured her, "I 
can't get used to saying it, that's all. You see 
we haven't been, very long. Well anyway, Allen 
came over with the Engineers, and well, you know 
when you suddenly make up your mind to do a 
wild thing, how it is f " 



104 ALICE BLYTHE 

Alice nodded understandingly. 

"Well, I made up my mind to come over. A 
girl I know was ready to start but suddenly lost 
her nerve, so I took her place. There wasn't 
time to ask many questions and I looked strong, 
and that's the main thing." 

"But you aren't doing First Aid," Alice pro- 
tested. 

Helen held up two very dirty hands rough from 
work. 

"I am not," she said smiling. "I found out 
that there were other things to do beside nurse, 
and I 've been doing them. And of course, I didn 't 
come as a nurse, but just as a helper." 

There was a pause, in which Alice looked long 
and approvingly at the muddy khaki skirt of her 
companion. 

"I think you're ripping," she said at last, "and 
I'm no end glad I've found you. You tell me 
what to do and I'll do it. I'm simply crazy to 
get my hands as dirty as yours. Wait a second 
until I change into something sensible, and let's 
start." 

The change was soon made, and Helen began 
showing Alice the various tasks for which she was 



HELEN CAREY 105 

responsible. They consisted in working in the 
garden, cleaning automobiles, and doing the left- 
over jobs that the few overworked orderlies could 
not accomplish. 

Alice was very hungry when dinner time came, 
and she was only too glad to take Helen's sug- 
gestion and go to bed early. They would both 
have liked to stay awake and talk, but they were 
much too sleepy. 

Michael Jepson, looking out of his window a 
little before eight o'clock, smiled as he saw the 
light go out in the turret room. "I'm not so sure 
I was right about Cricket," he said to himself. 
"She's made a pretty thorough start for her first 
day, I should say." 



CHAPTER XI 

A STRANGE REUNION 

TWO weeks later found Alice still at her 
post, working hard beside Helen. Her 
hands had attained the desired rough 
look that she had so envied, and the whole hospital 
staff were learning to depend on her to do what- 
ever they asked, willingly and without comment, 
as they had weeks before learned to depend on 
Helen. 

The two girls had grown to be close friends, and 
when there was time for it they enjoyed exchang- 
ing confidences. Alice learned all about " Shoul- 
ders," the favorite cowpuncher on the Carey 
ranch, and was as interested in his letters, written 
vaguely from "Somewhere in France," as Helen 
was herself. Helen in turn took a lively interest 
in Peter and Captain Blythe. It was while they 
were discussing the latter one day that they made 
a curious discovery. They were both busy in the 
garden when the conversation took place. 

107 



108 ALICE BLYTHE 

"I wish I could hear from Gibbie," Alice said, 
as she rested a moment and leaned on the hoe. 
"I'm so afraid he's doing some risky stunt again. 
He's always poking about in dangerous corners, 
trying to find out things.' f 

"He must be great," Helen said enthusiasti- 
cally. "I love men that do queer things." 

"I do, too," Alice agreed, "but it's most awfully 
aggravating when you know that your only 
brother has been back of the German lines and 
he can't tell you how he got there." 

"Has he, really! Do you mean he dressed up 
as a peasant, or something?" Helen inquired. 
"How thrilling!" 

"I don't know a thing about it, really," Alice 
answered, resuming her work. "We didn't hear 
from him for ages, and then I got a queer letter 
that only hinted at the most exciting adventures. 
It was mostly about the retaking of Zandre, that 
Belgian village, you know, and he raved about a 
little Belgian girl with an unpronounceable name ; 
said she was the real heroine of the attack, and 
ended up by asking me to buy her a white dress 
with a blue ribbon. And that's every word I've 




11 'Why, that's the most thrilling thing I ever heard' " 

Page 111 

109 



A STKANGE KEUNION 111 

heard, except a note a little later saying he'd re- 
ceived the dress, and that Marieken was delighted 
with it. I don't know where he is now, but 
Michael's trying to find out for me." 

Helen did not reply at once; she regarded a 
clod of dirt that she had just turned over, in- 
tently. * ' What did you say the girl 's name was ? ' ' 
she asked at last. 

"Marieken," Alice replied, "and her last name 
was DeBruin, I think. Why what 's the matter 1 ' ' 
she demanded at Helen's look of excited surprise. 

"Why, that's the most thrilling thing I ever 
heard. When I was at boarding school last 
winter, I adopted a Belgian soldier, his name was 
Henri DeBruin, and the last letter I had from 
him he spoke of his brave little sister, Marieken. 
Do you suppose it could be the same one?" 

"Why, I never heard anything so exciting! Of 
course it must be," Alice exclaimed. "How 
simply thrilling! Gib said in one of his letters 
that the brother had been wounded and was in 
the same village with his mother and little sister. 
Now if we only knew where that was. I'll try 
to make Michael find out." 



112 ALICE BLYTHE 

"Do you suppose that if it wasn't too far away 
we could get a day of? and go to see them?" Helen 
inquired. 

"That's just exactly what I was thinking," 
Alice replied; "we'll find out anyway." 

They returned to their work with excited vigor 
until the bugle summoned them to their midday 
meal. Just as they sat down to the long table 
an orderly came up to Alice. 

"Dr. Jepson wants you in his office, Miss. 
Gentleman to see you, I think," he added. 
"There's a big gray car out front." 

Alice jumped up excitedly and hurried across 
to the Chateau, and upstairs to the Doctor's office. 

"What's up, Michael?" she demanded from the 
doorway, "any news from Peter?" 

"Well, I like that! She asks for her cousin 
before she asks for her brother," a voice over by 
the window drawled. 

Alice turned and looked. "Gibbie!" she ex- 
claimed, "how simply ripping! I've been think- 
ing of you all morning. Where did you come 
from?" 

Captain Blythe regarded his sister in surprise 



A STRANGE REUNION 113 

"I say, Cricket, but you are grown up, — but how 
awfully grubby, " was all he could find to say. 

"Never mind that," Alice insisted. "Tell me 
how you got here. Michael, I believe you knew 
he was coming." 

Dr. Jepson, at his desk, looked up and grinned. 
"I did, Cricket, in fact, I used every means I could 
find to get him here, and now I see I should have 
gotten Peter instead." 

"Nonsense, I'm much gladder to see Gibbie, and 
you know it. ' ' Alice flushed. A new element was 
creeping into her thoughts about Peter, and she 
resented it. "I Ve a thousand things to tell you, ' ' 
she went on hastily to her brother, "so sit down." 

Captain Blythe selected a big cozy chair, and 
Alice perched on the arm of it. In half -broken, 
excited sentences she told him about Helen Carey 
and their common interest in the De Bruin family. 

"Are they very far from here, Gibbie?" she 
inquired, "and do you think we could go to see 
them? It would be such a lark." 

Captain Blythe considered as he lighted a fresh 
cigarette. 

"I say, that is rather a strange coincidence, 



114 ALICE BLYTHE 

isn't it?" he said at last. "As it happens they 
are not far from here. If you can get off, I'll 
run you over to see them this afternoon. It's 
on my road and I'll find some way to get you 
back." 

Alice looked appealingly at Michael. "Do you 
think we could?" she asked softly. 

* * How do I know ? ' ' Dr. Jepson replied ; ' ' you 're 
not my clerk any more, remember, and from what 
I gather from Lady Harden, you and that Miss 
Carey are the only people who really work on the 
place." 

"But, Michael, if you asked her," Alice teased, 
"we've really very little to do this afternoon." 

"Ha, ha, I knew that was coming! Gilbert, 
that sister of yours is the bane of my existence, ' ' 
Michael replied sternly. "Child," he turned to 
Alice, "go and get ready. I'll talk to Lady Har- 
den." 

"Oh, Michael, you darling!" Alice exclaimed, 
and hurried to Helen to tell her the exciting news. 

A half hour later they were sitting on either 
side of Captain Blythe, and the big gray army car 
was headed towards Fleurette. 

"I feel as if I could pick out Henri from a hun- 



A STKANGE REUNION 115 

dred soldiers,' ' Helen laughed. "IVe had so 
many letters from him, it seems funny to realize I 
don't really know him." 

"He's rather a fine chap, I hear," Captain 
Blythe replied; "he was very shy the day I met 
him. But wait till you see my little Marieken, — 
she's the really important member of the family." 

"Tell us what she did," Alice demanded. 
"Your letters about her have driven me crazy." 

"All right," the Captain agreed, "you really 
ought to hear something about her really to appre- 
ciate her." 

The recital of Marieken 's bravery lasted until 
they reached the main street of Fleurette, and 
Alice and Helen were so excited that when the car 
stopped at the hospital they would not have been 
surprised if Joan of Arc, arrayed in a full suit of 
armor, had ridden out to meet them. 

Miss Brooks, the capable American woman who 
was at the head of the Hospital, received them en- 
thusiastically. She remembered Captain Blythe, 
and from Henri she had heard much of Helen. 
She took them out to the side lawn where Henri 
was sitting smoking contentedly with some of his 
comrades. Then she sent off a message to Marie- 



116 ALICE BLYTHE 

ken, who was as busy as ever in the kitchen. 

The meeting was a curious one in many respects. 
Henri was overjoyed at seeing his "Marraine," 
but he was very shy, and Helen did most of the 
talking. Marieken, on the other hand, was de- 
lighted to talk. She chattered to Captain Blythe 
in her rapid French, stopping now and then to 
answer a question from Alice, and laughed gayly 
at the slightest provocation. She held the Cap- 
tain's hand all the time. 

Alice felt like an outsider. She talked to Miss 
Brooks and some of the nurses, and tried not to 
feel jealous as she watched the others. But the 
thought that each one of them had won honor and 
respect by some individual deed of courage made 
her feel suddenly very unimportant. She did not 
realize that to both of the girls the chance had 
come. Marieken 's in Zandre and Helen's back in 
the United States, and that perhaps her oppor- 
tunity was waiting for her not far ahead. 

Her unhappy thoughts were suddenly inter- 
rupted by Captain Blythe as he exclaimed. "By 
Jove! I didn't know it was so late. We must 
be going. Come along, both of you, I '11 take you 
to the station. Miss Brooks says that the trains 



A STRANGE REUNION 117 

are running after a fashion, and you'll get home 
sometime to-night. Don't mind going without 
your dinner, do you?" he asked laughing. "I'd 
take you back, but I have to report fifty miles 
north to-night, and I can't chance being late." 

"Oh, it has been such a nice afternoon, Cap- 
tain," Helen replied, "that I wouldn't mind going 
without fifty dinners. Good-by, Henri," she con- 
tinued, taking the soldier's hand, "I hope I'll see 
you again soon." 

"You are so very kind," Henri replied shyly. 
"You have given me so much of happiness this 
afternoon. And now — " he looked downcast, 
"you are going, and I have not so much as started 
to thank you for your letters of last winter. 
Always in the trenches I would say to myself, if 
some day I meet my little Marraine, I will thank 
her properly, and — now," he shrugged his shoul- 
ders, "I have been able to say no word." 

"Nonsense," Helen laughed, "you've been 
thanking me all afternoon, and besides I'll see you 
again soon, and next time I'll see if I can't bring 
you some tobacco," she promised. 

Marieken said good-by very politely to them 
all, sighed because they would not stay and let 



118 ALICE BLYTHE 

her cook dinner for them, and finally kissed Cap- 
tain Blythe on both cheeks. " You will come soon 
again ? ' p she pleaded. * ■ I think of you, oh, so much 
when you are up there near the guns, and some- 
times I cry when I dream you are wounded." 

Captain Blythe laughed good-naturedly, "I 
won't get wounded, Marieken, I promise,' ' he 
said. * * So don 't worry your little head any more. 
Give my respects to Madame, your mother. I am 
sorry we cannot stop in the village to see her. 
And be good and dream nice dreams about the 
Inn at Zandre, and what sport we'll have after 
the war is over, instead of having nightmares over 
me." 

Marieken nodded happily and ran to the gate 
to wave them out of sight as they sped down the 
dusty road towards the station. 

Captain Blythe left Alice and Helen on the tiny 
platform to wait the arrival of their train. * ' You 
can't go wrong, and remember the name of your 
station is Avenon," he cautioned them. "If you 
can't get a lift, you'll have to foot it back to the 
hospital, but it's only a couple of miles.' * 

"Good-by, Gibbie," Alice replied, "I wish you 



A STRANGE REUNION 119 

didn't have to go so soon. It's been no end of a 
lark seeing you. ' ' 

"Oh, I'll try to pop in on you again," the Cap- 
tain promised. "In the meantime, though, I may 
see Peter. I'm going to his section. Any mes- 
sage ?" 

"No," Alice replied calmly, "just good luck, 
and tell him he's a bit stingy about letters." 

The Captain looked at his sister, winked 
solemnly and turned to Helen. "Good-by, Miss 
Carey, I'm most awfully glad to have met you." 

"Good-by," Helen replied, "if you hear any- 
thing about the American troops, why let me know, 
won't you?" 

"Well, rather," the Captain promised, as he 
jumped back into the car and nodded to his driver. 



CHAPTER Xn 

A SUDDEN DECISION 

THE car started. Alice and Helen watched 
until it was lost from sight in a cloud of 
sunlit dust, then they returned to the plat- 
form to wait for their train, which was already two 
hours late. 

"I'm hungry,' ' Alice announced after a little. 

"So am I," Helen agreed, "but it doesn't look 
much like food around here. At best we're two 
hours away from dinner, and we may be much 
longer than that." 

Alice cast a despairing glance up the track. 
The rails glistened brightly where the rays of the 
setting sun struck them, but there was no sign of 
a train. 

"Let's ask the station master when he thinks 
the train will come," Helen suggested; "he's in 
that little house. You speak French, so you'll 
have to do it." 

More for something to do than from any idea 
121 



122 ALICE BLYTHE 

of gaining information, they went over to the tiny 
well-kept cottage and knocked. 

The old station master opened the door. He 
was delighted to see the young ladies, but he could 
not tell them when the train was likely to come. 
It was all in the hands of the good God and the 
military authorities, who knew best, but he had 
faith that it would eventually arrive. 

Alice thanked him in her best French, and she 
and Helen crossed back to the platform and sat 
down. They waited for an hour. The sun was 
almost out of sight behind the trees, and the clouds 
in the west were streaked with gold, but the glories 
of the sunset were wasted on Alice. 

"If I don't eat something soon, I'll jolly well 
die of hunger right here on the platform," she 
said. 

"It's getting awfully late, look at the sun," 
Helen pointed. "Do you think there is a train, or 
do you suppose it's just a fable?" 

At this point the door of the little cottage across 
the tracks opened and the old man beckoned. "It 
is very late, even for the down train," he said 
when they went to him. "I took the liberty of 



A SUDDEN DECISION 123 

thinking you might be hungry." He pointed to 
a table in the center of his tiny room, on which 
stood a big bowl of berries and a pitcher of cream. 

At the sight of them Alice used all the polite 
French phrases she could remember, and then re- 
sorted to heartfelt English. 

"He's saved our lives, bless his dear heart," 
she laughed, "and I can't say anything but * thank 
you, Monsieur, you are very kind, and we are very 
hungry.' " 

"Never mind, when he sees us devour them, 
he'll understand," Helen replied. 

They drew up two old chairs and were just 
seated at the table, the tempting fruit between 
them, when a shrill whistle made them jump to 
their feet. The train was at last arriving. 
Alice's look of despair as she hurried with Helen 
across the track was comical. The old station 
master could not suppress a chuckle as he ran to 
put down the gates. 

The train slowed up at the station, a guard 
pointed to an empty compartment and helped them 
in hurriedly, and before they had caught their 
breaths they were on their way. 

"That was the crudest thing I ever had happen 



124 ALICE BLYTHE 

to me in all my life," Alice groaned. "The 
thought of that fruit snatched from under my 
trembling lips, — it's — it's a beastly shame, and 
I 'm twice as hungry as I was before. ' ' 

* ' Never mind, ' ' Helen comforted, * * we '11 be back 
at the Hospital soon and then we will be sure of 
an uninterrupted meal, but I do wish that dear old 
man had had his generous impulse a little sooner." 

They settled back into their corners and the 
train lumbered along. It stopped every few min- 
utes, and at one part of the journey they waited 
on a siding for an hour. When at last the guard 
came to their compartment to tell them that the 
next stop would be Avenon, it was after eight 
o'clock. They were only too glad to get out, but 
as they stood on the little platform they tried 
vainly to get their bearings, for it was very dark, 
and the lamp that hung in the doorway of the 
station was the only light in sight. The station 
master, or mistress, for in this case it was a 
woman, eyed them suspiciously. 

"We are from the Hospital," Alice explained, 
"and we would like a carriage to drive us there. 
Do you know where we can get one ? ' ' 

The Frenchwoman shrugged her shoulders 



A SUDDEN DECISION 125 

characteristically and told them that there was any 
amount of carriages to be had in the village, but 
unfortunately the Army had taken all the horses. 
Alice translated as best she could to Helen. 

"I suppose that's funny," Helen said, "but 
I'm too tired to see the humor of it just now. 
Ask her the road, I'm all turned around. We'll 
have to walk." 

The woman pointed vaguely into the darkness, 
and they started off in the general direction. 
Once on their way they knew that if they kept 
straight ahead for two miles they would reach the 
chateau. 

"And dinner," Alice added. "Oh, dear, I was 
never so starved." 

"Well, cheer up, this little walk will give you 
an added appetite," Helen teased. 

They trudged on in silence for awhile, and then 
Alice said suddenly: "Listen! I hear some- 
thing. It's an automobile." 

They stood still and waited. At first they heard 
a faint thundering noise that grew louder as the 
machine approached. 

"It's coming towards us," Alice said dolefully; 
"what a beastly shame, I was hoping for a lift." 



126 ALICE BLYTHE 

"It's more than one car, it's a lot of them. Do 
listen! Look, here they come, we'd better give 
them the road, ' ' Helen advised. 

They stepped to one side as a train of five 
ambulance lorries appeared np the road. Their 
headlights were on, and they were moving very 
fast. 

' * More wounded, ' ' Helen said. * ' I didn 't know 
they were expected, did you ? " 

*■ ' No, ' ' Alice answered. * ■ Look ! ' ' 

One of the machines was coming dizzily toward 
them, and they saw that it lurched from side to 
side. It was the third in line, and as they watched, 
it crashed heavily into a tree, scrapping the car 
ahead. 

The others stopped abruptly and the girls ran 
forward. The machine was badly smashed, and 
the driver was thrown to the side of the road. 
The second car had stopped half-way up the bank 
a little farther on. Alice saw that the driver had 
fallen forward over the wheel. The rest of the 
cars stopped in their tracks, and their drivers hur- 
ried to the wreck. 

"What's up?" Alice inquired; "we're from the 
Hospital.' ' 



A SUDDEN DECISION 127 

One of the drivers turned to her. He looked 
very tired and dusty, and his voice was weak. 

"Unexpected push up ahead," he explained; 
"we've been running for twenty-four hours from 
the dressing station to the Front Hospital Now 
we're clearing that out, we've another trip to 
make to-night back here. Can we leave him with 
you?" He pointed to the limp form that Helen 
was already bending over. Alice nodded. 

"Tough luck, being one car shy just now," he 
continued; "we haven't any too many as it 
is." 

He walked wearily back to his machine, and the 
others followed his example. Alice watched them 
intently. None of them seemed to notice that the 
man in the second car was still in his seat. As 
they started off again, the drivers of the fourth 
and fifth machines shouted something, when the 
second failed to fall into line, but neither of them 
stopped. 

Alice ran over and shook the man at the wheeL 
He was not hurt, but the shock of the other car 
hitting his had dazed him. 

"Are you injured?" she demanded, as he re- 
garded her wonderingly. 



128 ALICE BLYTHE 

He was very young and he looked very sleepy. 
"What happened?" he asked. 

"Doesn't matter,' ' Alice replied shortly, 
"you're not fit to go on. Get out and go over and 
help take that man back to the Hospital." 

The boy obeyed mechanically. Alice climbed in- 
to the seat he had just left. She started the en- 
gine, released the brake and drove a little way 
down the road. Then she jumped out and ran 
back to Helen. 

"There's nothing wrong with this car," she 
said hurriedly, "and I'm going to drive it. Tell 
Michael I'll be back sometime to-morrow, will 
you?" 

Helen was busy lifting the injured man, with 
the help of the other driver, but she stopped long 
enough to look at Alice for a brief second, then 
she nodded. 

"All right, but be careful. Easy, lift him 
gently," she directed as she turned to the man. 

Alice went back to the waiting ambulance. 



CHAPTER Xin 

A CEY IN THE DABK 

ATEAIN of ambulance lorries, returning 
empty to their base, driven at full speed, 
and it was several minutes before Alice 
caught sight of car number five. She had had to 
make up for the time she had lost, and it was with 
a sense of having won a race that she fell into line 
and was able to slacken her pace to suit the car 
ahead. 

She did not have time to analyze the sudden im- 
pulse that had prompted her to follow with the 
extra ambulance. It was enough for her to know 
there was something going on up at the Front, and 
that they needed all the help they could get. 
When she discovered that the driver of car num- 
ber two could not "carry on" any further she had 
slipped into his seat with characteristic calm. 
Once in the seat the necessity of keeping her head 
clear and her hands steady occupied all her time. 

Fear was something that Alice knew very little 

129 



130 ALICE BLYTHE 

about, and the ride ahead held no terrors for her. 
She did not have any idea where she was going, 
or what she was expected to do when she got there, 
but she did know that wherever and whatever it 
was, the car she was driving was needed, and she 
centered all her energy on getting it there. 

For the first part of the trip the roads were 
good, and driving was comparatively easy. The 
lights from the lamps showed the road for a few 
feet ahead, and made queer ghost-like shadows 
against the blackness of the countryside. Alice 
had a detached sort of feeling that she was sitting 
still and the rest of the world was whirling by her 
on either side. The thunder of the cars ahead 
grew monotonous and the even throb of her own 
engine seemed to be a distinctive sound. She 
kept her eyes on the road and drove. It was too 
dark to see anything of the country, but she felt 
the nearness of trees, and knew that she was going 
through a woods. 

A little farther on, the car ahead slowed down ; 
she followed, and after a minute her lights showed 
up the outline of a bridge. The boards trembled 
under her as she crossed. The road beyond was 
full of ruts, and it was harder to drive. She 



A CRY IN THE DAEK 131 

watched carefully, but it is not easy to avoid 
bumps when you are traveling at such a rate. 
After a while she gave it up and tried to follow in 
the tracks of the car ahead, it lurched and swayed 
as the road grew worse. At last lights ahead 
flickered in the darkness, and other noises, besides 
the thunder of the cars, came to her. 

The car ahead turned to the right, and as she 
followed, her car stopped bumping. She was on 
a smooth road again, and the pace of all the train 
was considerably slackened. 

"Either we're going through a village, or this 
it IT, » » Alice said to herself. * ' I hope it 's IT. » ' 

It was not long before she knew, for one by one 
the cars ahead stopped and by the pale light of 
the lamps she saw that they were in front of a 
house that might once have been a hotel. She 
was undecided what to do, but she backed her 
car up as the others had done, and waited. 

Several men in uniforms were hurrying back 
and forth giving orders, and every few minutes 
an ambulance from somewhere farther on would 
go past, driving slowly. She was just going to 
get down and explain to some one, when a voice 
shouted : ' ' Cars one and two for the Front ; you 



132 ALICE BLYTHE 

can make it before dawn if you hustle, and you're 
needed. Carry on! — " and she saw the first of 
her train pull out and lurch into the road. 

For a half -minute Alice was undecided what to 
do. The common-sense plan would be to explain 
and have another car sent in her place, but some- 
thing stronger than common-sense urged her to 
go herself. Something inside her brain kept say- 
ing, "I can't be as tired as they are," and before 
she realized that she had made up her mind, she 
was on the road again, just behind the other car. 

They sped along over the smooth streets of the 
town, took a sharp turn to their right, and were 
soon in the country once more. 

This time the roads were worse than ever, and 
it was impossible to go very fast. Alice watched 
the car ahead, and it seemed to go down out of 
sight into a ditch and climb up the other side, 
every few minutes. She was beginning to wish 
that she had not come, when suddenly a sentry 
loomed up in the glare of her lamps, and she heard 
him shout: "What are you doing with your 
lights on?" 

She did not stop to explain, but hastened to 
switch off her lamps. 



A CRY IN THE DARK 133 

" Guess, I'm in the war zone," she said aloud, 
and for a minute a cold creepy feeling took pos- 
session of her backbone. 

It took her some time to grow accustomed to 
the darkness. There was nothing to guide her 
now but the noise of the car ahead, and she soon 
realized she could not trust to that, for another 
noise that she had been hearing for the last hour 
or so, and had thought was other heavy lorries, 
grew louder and clearer, and she realized with a 
start that she was actually listening to the guns. 
She drove on for a long time, feeling her way, and 
listening hard for the car ahead. When there was 
a lull in the cannonading she could hear the 
sound of the engine, and she did her best to fol- 
low it. 

For a short distance the road was comparatively 
level, and Alice thought that if she could only 
reach the driver of the car ahead she could ask him 
to tell her what their general direction was. She 
slowed down to listen for a sound from his car 
and then speeded up as fast as she dared, to try to 
gain on him. She tried hard to pierce the black- 
ness ahead, but she could distinguish nothing. 
She had to depend on her hearing. Just as she 



134 ALICE BLYTHE 

thought that she could hear the other car a little 
more distinctly, the guns began again, this time 
in real earnest, vivid blotches of color showed to 
the north every few minutes, and the noise of the 
bursting shells was terrifying. 

Alice had only one thought, to reach the car 
ahead at all costs, and in the stress of her excite- 
ment she forgot the road. Suddenly, and without 
warning, her car struck a rut and jumped to one 
side. The wheel in her hand refused to budge; 
then the back of the car swung around and settled 
into a hole. 

Alice sat perfectly still for a moment and 
tried to collect her wits. She was shocked, and 
her knee was bruised, but she was not hurt other- 
wise. The car was balancing on the edge of a shell 
hole, and she decided to get out before it turned 
over. She had completely lost her bearings, and 
in the inky darkness she did not know from which 
direction she had come. She sat down on the 
ground and tried to think. She was not as fright- 
ened as she was angry. She did not understand 
that what had happened to her might have hap- 
pened to any one. 



A CRY IN THE DARK 135 

"I've made a mess of things and spoiled an 
ambulance, ' ' was the burden of her thoughts, and 
the more she thought the angrier she became. 

She buried her head in her hands, and the hot 
burning tears trickled down between her fingers. 

"Won't help any to blub about it," she said 
angrily, getting up; "maybe the car isn't really 
smashed up, and I might be able to back out of 
that hole if I could only see." 

She felt her way to the car and touched the hood, 
then she felt along the side and around to the 
back. The hole was not a very deep one, and her 
hopes were beginning to rise, when a sound from 
somewhere out of the darkness made her jump. 
She was surrounded by a din of noise, for shells 
were bursting only a little way to the north, but 
this sound was different; it was human. She 
waited, listening, scarcely daring to breathe. 

It came again, a sharp cry of pain unmistak- 
ably, and in sharp contrast to the thunder of the 
guns. 

Without a moment's hesitation she plunged into 
the darkness in the direction from which it had 
come. 



CHAPTER XIV 

peter's instructions put to the test 

THE cry had not come from any great dis- 
tance, and Alice had not stumbled on for 
very far, before her shoulder struck 
against something. She put out her hand. Her 
first thought was that another ambulance had gone 
off the road, but to her surprise and amazement 
she took hold of something that felt like the wing 
of an aeroplane. 

"Is there any one here?" she asked, uncon- 
sciously lowering her voice. 

"Yes, over here. Where are you?" A voice 
very weak from pain replied. 

Alice groped her way to the side of the machine 
under the wing. 

"Right here; 111 find you in a minute." She 
felt along the ground and finally touched some- 
thing that felt like an arm. It moved painfully 
under her touch. A man was lying at her feet. 

"What's the matter? Do you know what's 

137 



138 ALICE BLYTHE 

happened to you ? ' ' She inquired gently, kneeling 
down beside him. 

"I got winged right under the shoulder. I 
think, but I made my landing — Oh! — " A 
sharp intake of breath made Alice pause. 

"Am I hurting you very much?" she asked, 
"I want to find out where you're hurt. Is it this 
shoulder? It's so beastly dark I can't see what 
I'm doing." 

"I know, it's been dark for ages," the man's 
voice replied fretfully. * * Who are you anyway ? ' ' 
he demanded suddenly, and Alice felt his hand 
cover the pocket of his coat protectingly. 

"English ambulance driver," she explained, 
"and a pretty poor one at that. I ran off the road 
over there quite a while ago. Didn 't you hear me?" 

* * Not till just now. The guns have been making 
such an infernal racket, and my shoulder's been a 
bit jumpy," the voice trailed off, and Alice knew 
that the man was suffering more than he would 
admit. 

"Wonder if I could get you anything from the 
ambulance," she said slowly; "perhaps there's a 
bottle of water somewhere." 



PETER'S INSTRUCTIONS 139 

"Got some of that in my own machine, bnt I 
couldn't get to it. Think you could find it?" 
the man replied. "I am uncommon thirsty. I 
smashed my torch looking for it." 

Alice left him and felt her way to the 'plane. 

"It's strapped to the side of the seat," the man 
directed. 

She found the flask and returned. 

1 * There you are, be careful don 't spill it. ' ' She 
lifted his head gently and applied the mouth of 
the flask. 

A sigh rewarded her. 

"What time is it, do you know!" the man asked 
after a pause. 

"Almost dawn," Alice replied. "As soon as I 
can see things, I '11 get you over to the ambulance 
and try to make you comfortable, we're almost 
sure to be picked up soon by a returning car from 
the Front. 

The man's head had dropped back into her lap, 
and his voice grew feverish again. 

"All very well for you, but I can't go," he said. 
"I've got to be back at headquarters before then. 
I've made that observation and I must get it to 



140 ALICE BLYTHE 

them. This delay's a nuisance. Why don't we 
start!" 

' * What division are you in ? " Alice asked. 

The man tried to collect his wits at the ques- 
tion, and gave her a name and number, which 
were strangely enough the name and number of 
Peter's Company. 

"I see," she replied, "I know Lieutenant St. 
John and Lieutenant Hunt of that — " then she 
waited. 

"St. John. Good old Peter, gone West; too 
bad." The man murmured confusedly. "But 
why don't we start? I must get this news back to 
the Colonel." 

Alice's heart felt as if it had turnfd over and 
then stopped, as she waited. "Peter gone West," 
she said, trying to understand, "but, of course, he 
doesn't know, he's delirious, and I mustn't — I 
can 't believe him. ' * 

"What news have you got to get to Head- 
quarters?" she demanded, trying to rouse the 
man. 

• ' Big formation of troops ; I saw them. Marked 
my map and then — confound it, where 's my map? 
You've taken it!" He sat up excitedly. 



PETER'S INSTRUCTIONS 141 

"No, beg your pardon, I forgot you were a girl. 
What's a girl doing here?" His voice was 
steadily growing weaker. 

"Oh, never mind that," Alice interrupted, 
"you're too sick to trouble." She put her hand 
gently on his shoulder to push him back, and felt 
that it was wet — a sticky wet. She knew that it 
was blood. "There must be an emergency kit in 
the ambulance," she said, "I'm going to get it. 
I'll be right back. Don't try to move." 

She found her way to the ambulance and 
climbed gingerly inside. She could not see any- 
thing beyond the vaguest shapes, and the machine 
might turn over if she was not careful. It looked 
in the darkness as if it were just balancing on the 
edge of the shell hole. Once inside, she felt 
around and pulled out a blanket, and under the 
seat in front she found a bag that she thought 
must be an emergency kit. With these she 
stumbled back to the man. She slipped the 
blanket as best she could under his head and 
shoulders, and then started to unbutton his coat 
and khaki shirt. He winced with pain at first, 
but helped her all he could. 

"If you can stop the blood I'll be better," he 



142 ALICE BLYTHE 

said hopefully. "Know anything about nurs- 
ing?" 

"No," Alice replied, "but I've got a bag of stuff 
here and we'll do something." 

The wound was not on the shoulder, but through 
the upper part of the arm, and with the man 
directing, Alice tied a tourniquet above and below 
the spot. Then she put on some soft bandage that 
she found, gave the man another drink, covered 
him with the blanket and sat down beside him to 
think. There were a lot of things in the kit bag, 
but it was too dark to see what they were. 

"If I only knew what bottle had iodine in it, I'd 
put some of that on it, ' ' she said to herself. Then, 
as if she had a sudden inspiration, she exclaimed 
aloud. "The lights! Of course, the car lights, 
what an idiot I was not to think of them." She 
ran back to the road and switched them on. They 
looked very large and seemed to illuminate all the 
country. Alice was frightened by their glare; 
she looked hurriedly in the bag, found a bottle and 
switched the lights off again. 

"What was that?" the man demanded when she 
returned to him. 



PETER'S INSTRUCTIONS 143 

She explained. i 

"I was stupid not to think of it before," she 
said. 

"Oh, bother, you mustn't do it again," the 
man insisted, "it's dangerous; we're too near the 
guns, and they might start shelling us, and we 
can't take the chance on account of my plane — 
can't you understand!" 

"Isn't your plane wrecked?" Alice demanded. 

"No, my tank's hit, but I could make it on my 
emergency if my shoulder would only stop." He 
tried to sit up, but she pushed him back firmly and 
applied the iodine. 

"Now listen to me," she said, when she had 
emptied most of the contents of the bottle over his 
arm in the hope of some of it finding the wound : 
"you lie still until the dawn comes, it can't be 
long. And don't worry about the map. I prom- 
ise you it will be taken over the lines and delivered 
to the Colonel." 

"How can you promise?" the man said fret- 
fully, but his head sank back on her lap, and for 
a long time neither of them spoke. 

Alice watched the sky in the east for the first 



144 ALICE BLYTHE 

streak of light. Never had a night seemed so in- 
terminably long, but at last the black of the sky 
gave way to a faint gray, and the country began 
to take a definite shape. She saw the outline 
of the plane and her heart began to beat excitedly. 
The man beside her was lying very still. It was 
not light enough for her to distinguish any of his 
features, but he seemed to her more like a human 
being and less of a voice than he had seemed in 
the dark, and the fact gave her courage. She 
leaned over him and roused him gently. 

"The light's coming, " she explained, pointing 
to the east. * ' Are you any better ? ' ' 

He tried to nod. He was very weak and his face 
showed ashy white against the dark blanket. 

He looked at Alice in amazement, and she 
laughed nervously. 

"Now don't start worrying and wondering who 
I am," she said. "I haven't time to explain, but 
do try to understand what I am going to say. 

"First of all, I'm Peter St. John's cousin, and 
next, I know how to drive an aeroplane. If you 
have a message that is really important, I'll take 
it. Just give me your map and tell me the di- 
rection by the compass. I'll drag you over to the 



PETER'S INSTRUCTIONS 145 

road, and one of the other ambulances will pick 
you up." 

The man looked at her in unbelieving surprise. 

"Am I balmy, or are you really talking sense?" 
he said a little crossly. 

"I'm talking sense," Alice replied. "You 
can't take the message, you're too weak; so why 
not let me try? I know you don't believe I can, 
but it's the only chance." 

"No, of course, I don't believe you can," the 
man replied, and added fretfully, "I suppose I'll 
wake up in a minute." 

"Well, I wouldn't wait for that if I were you," 
Alice advised. "It's getting lighter every second 
and I'd like to start if I'm going." 

The man did not reply, but she saw baffled con- 
sent in his eyes. She jumped up with alacrity. 

"Come along now, I'll get you over to the am- 
bulance." She lifted him as gently as she could 
under his arms, and dragged, and pulled until he 
was just on the edge of the road. With a show 
of business-like haste, which she was far from 
feeling, she took a stretcher from the ambulance, 
covered it with blankets, and made him as com- 
fortable as possible. 



146 ALICE BLYTHE 

"Now tell me what to do," she said. 

Without a word the man took a wallet from his 
pocket and handed it to her. Then in a tone as 
gruff as it was possible for him to use he gave 
her some directions. Alice repeated them after 
him clearly, slipped the wallet in the pocket of the 
sweater she had on, and walked back to the 'plana 
On the way she picked up the gauntlets and cap 
that she found on the ground, and put them on. 

"Now, Peter, what do I do next?" she whispered 
to herself. 

Apparently no one answered her question, but 
Peter's instructions came back to her mind, clear 
and distinct. She started the engine, and climbed 
into the seat with a forced bravado. She knew 
that the man by the roadside did not believe in 
her, and the knowledge made her angry. She 
remembered what he had said about the tank being 
shot, and switched to the emergency. 

"Peter, Peter, don't let me fall down now!" 
she begged. Again Peter seemed to come to her 
aid. Her hands acted mechanically as if under his 
instructions. 

There was a whirring noise, a sudden jerky 
start, and then the 'plane bumped over the ground, 



PETER'S INSTRUCTIONS 147 

rose gently, skimmed the ground for a little way, 
and then soared up and up towards a bank of gray 
clouds that hung low in the east. 



CHAPTER XV 

A HINT OF DISASTEB 

WHEN Alice circled above the field of 
the Flying Corps Headquarters, a lit- 
tle later, the place was deserted, ex- 
cept for the men on guard. One of them noticed 
her 'plane and called to a comrade, and together 
they ran out to meet it. 

Alice wanted to make a landing worthy of 
Peter's instructions, so she tried to volplane 
gently down, but she miscalculated her distance 
with the result that her machine ran away with 
her and she struck the ground before she intended 
to. Before she could stop it the *plane crashed 
into a fence post and seemed literally to crumple 
up. 

The men hurried over to the wreck, expecting 
to find the regular pilot at the wheel. Their sur- 
prise, when they discovered Alice, was so great 
that it seemed to rob them of the power to act. 
They stood about looking dumbfounded long 

149 



150 ALICE BLYTHE 

enough for Alice to recover from the shock and 
realize the sharp pain that was making her ankle 
throb. 

"Well, help me, one of you," she said when she 
found her voice, and the men sprang to her. One 
of them helped her climb out. She tried to stand ; 
a cry of pain escaped her, and she sank to the 
ground. 

"Blime me, if it ain't a girl," one of the men 
exclaimed. "Here, mate, help me pick her up. 
Wonder how she came back in Lieutenant Grey's 
machine." 

Alice was not unconscious, and she smiled in 
spite of her pain. "I flew back, didn't you see 
me? " she asked, trying to laugh. "Help me up, 
will you, I've an idea my ankle is broken." 

The men lifted her clumsily, and between them 
she tried to hobble along. 

"No use," she had to admit after a few steps, 
"you'll have to carry me." 

"Where to, Miss?" one of the guards inquired, 
rubbing his eyes. "I sy 'ave I gone balmy in my 
crumpet?" he inquired seriously. 

"To the Colonel, wherever he is," Alice di- 
rected, "I've got news for him, and there's no time 




'"Ml*** — 

''She tried to stand; a cry of pain escaped her" 

Page 150 
151 



A HINT OF DISASTER 153 

to lose. Ill tell you how I got your 'plane after- 
wards," she promised as they lifted her between 
them. 

Fortunately at that moment Lieutenant Hunt, 
attracted by the noise, came out of his quarters 
and hurried towards them. At sight of the group 
he stopped and looked even more surprised than 
the guards had. 

* ■ Alice Blythe ! ' ' he exclaimed. * * What are you 
doing here ? ' ' 

"Good morning, Stephen," Alice replied, and 
explained briefly the events of the night before. 

Lieutenant Hunt did not let her quite finish. 
He took the wallet she handed him and ran to the 
Colonel's quarters, calling to the men to follow. 

A few minutes later she was explaining all over 
again to another man with iron-gray hair, who was 
poring over the map before him while she talked. 
He was so busy, in fact, that he did not notice that 
Alice was swaying dizzily, and she would have 
fallen if Lieutenant Hunt had not caught her. 

"What'^ the matter? Oh, poor child, what a 
brute I am!" Alice heard him say, and then for 
just a very short time everything about her was 
blotted out, and her head swam. 



154 ALICE BLYTHE 

" She's fainted, sir," was the next thing she 
heard, and she knew Stephen was saying it. 

"No, I have not," she denied stoutly, and tried 
hard to open her eyes, "but I've hurt my ankle, 
and I'm hungry — awfully hungry." 

"Poor old girl, I should think you would 
be," Stephen replied. "Here, lie down for a 
while in the Colonel's bunk, and I'll find the 
M.D." 

Alice was glad enough to obey, her ankle was 
sending shooting pains up her leg, and her head 
was beginning to swim again. 

She heard the Colonel giving orders, and the 
men running back and forth. Evidently the map 
in the wallet had really been important. 

She closed her eyes and did not bother to think 
any more until a grinning Tommy offered her a 
tin cup filled with something that smelled deli- 
riously like broth. She sipped it slowly and her 
head cleared. 

"Thanks a lot, that was awfully good," she 
said. * ' May I have some more ? ' ' 

"Can she 'ave more, 'arken to her," the Tommy 
replied to an imaginary somebody. "She can 
'ave h'all of h'it she wants," he went on. He 



A HINT OF DISASTEK 155 

walked to the door. "Hi, Charlie, more chow for 
the lidy ! " he called. 

Alice drank four cups of the soup and felt better. 

She was just finishing the last one when the 
Colonel returned with the doctor. 

He examined the ankle and pronounced it a 
bad sprain. 

"But I can't for the life of me see how you did 
it," he said as he strapped it with bands of ad- 
hesive plaster. 

"I don't either," Alice confessed, "but I've 
given up wondering. I'm a bit confused as to 
what happened after I struck the ground, but I got 
here in time, didn't I, Colonel?" she asked. 

"You surely did, my dear," the Colonel replied; 
"we had given up Grey as lost." 

"I hope he's all right," Alice said, "I hated 
leaving him, but he was so upset about getting that 
map here, that I thought I'd better chance it, and 
now that I've done it, Colonel, may I ask one ques- 
tion?" 

The Colonel nodded. 

"Well," Alice began, "I've a cousin, Peter St. 
John, in this division, and I'd like most awfully 
to see him. Is he here ? ' ' 



156 ALICE BLYTHE 

The Colonel glanced sharply at the Doctor for 
a brief second, then he said quietly: "I'm 
awfully sorry, Miss Blythe, but your cousin is back 
of the lines resting. He had a cold, I believe, 
wasn 't it, Doctor V 

The Doctor nodded. 

"Nothing to be alarmed about, I just sent him 
back because I thought he needed the rest," he 
explained. "He will never forgive me when he 
hears he's missed you," he added. 

Alice smiled. 

"Thanks," she said. "Lieutenant Grey kept 
talking about some one's * going West,' last night, 
and well, of course, I knew it couldn't be Peter, 
for I knew I'd have heard if anything had hap- 
pened to him. But well, you understand, I could- 
n't quite get it out of my head." 

"Of course not, to be sure," the Colonel said 
hastily. "Poor Grey must have meant some one 
else, because St. John's all right, you see, oh, quite 
all right, except for this slight cold. Too bad he 
isn't here." 

"Oh, if he's really all right," Alice laughed, 
"I don't mind so very much. He'd rag me un- 
mercifully about that landing I made, and now 



A HINT OF DISASTER 157 

you see he doesn't have to know. Steve won't 
give me away, I'm certain, and yon won't, will 
you?" She looked up at the two men beside her, 
and laughed. 

"No indeed, certainly not," the Colonel replied. 
"I— I'll tell him you made no end of a fine land- 
ing, next time I see him, 'pon my soul, I will," he 
added and turned away suddenly. 

The Doctor stood up. 

"Try to rest a little, Miss Blythe, won't you!" 
he said. "That ankle may give you a little 
trouble, but I'll give you something if the pain 
gets very bad. " 

"Oh, please don't worry about me," Alice 
laughed. "I expect it's no end of a nuisance 
having me here, and I'm so sorry. Isn't there 
some way of getting me to a railway station and 
back to the Hospital? I hate bothering you like 
this." 

"Nonsense, my dear child, don't be absurd," 
the Colonel protested. "You're not a bother at 
all, you mustn't think so an instant, — can't have 
it, you know — think what you've done." And as 
Alice tried to speak, he went on. "You must 
stay quiet as the Doctor says. My quarters are 



158 ALICE BLYTHE 

entirely at your disposal. I'll give myself the 
pleasure of having tea with you this afternoon. 
Now, now, not a word. If you want anything, 
my orderly will see that you get it. I hope I'll 
have some news for you when I return," he fin- 
ished. 

Alice was a little embarrassed by so much at- 
tention, but she thanked him and nodded to the 
Doctor as they left her. She was very tired and 
very drowsy, and it was not long before she was 
fast asleep. 

She did not wake up until late in the afternoon. 
The Colonel's orderly was tiptoeing around get- 
ting ready for tea. 

"Hope I didn't wake you, Miss," he said apolo- 
getically. 

"No, indeed," Alice assured him, "it's high 
time I was awake, and I'm dying for tea." 

"I'll tell the Colonel, Miss," the orderly said; 
"he told me to let him know as soon as you were 
awake." 

A few minutes later, Alice and the Colonel were 
having the merriest time over the rather scanty 
meal. Alice told of the circumstances that led up 
to the adventure of the night before, and was 



A HINT OF DISASTER 159 

doing her best to make her host laugh. She 
was just recalling the episode of the station master 
and the plate of berries, when the orderly returned 
and announced, "Captain Blythe's compliments, 
sir, and may he have a word with you!" 

The Colonel got up instantly and went outside. 

Alice waited nervously. She knew, or thought 
she knew, exactly what her brother would say. 
After a short wait the Colonel returned with him. 

"Your brother, my dear," he said. 

"Hello, Gibbie!" Alice tried not to sound ex- 
cited, but she was very close to tears. 

Captain Blythe came over to her and took her 
in his arms. 

"Cricket, Cricket!" he said, kissing her, "what 
made you do it?" He was almost sobbing. 

"Why Gibbie, dear," Alice asked surprised, 
"it wasn't as bad as all that, and somebody had 
to bring the message, you know." 

"Yes, I know," her brother said brokenly, "and 
of course, you never stopped to be afraid." 

He sat down on the camp chair that the Colonel 
pushed toward him, and the talk turned to lighter 
subjects, but the Captain kept his eyes on his 
sister, and their expression was one of respect. 



160 ALICE BLYTHE 

At last Alice said: "When do I go back to the 
Hospital !" 

Gilbert laughed. "You don't go, my dear," he 
said, "you go back to England at once." 

His voice was firm. Alice pleaded in vain ; noth- 
ing could change his determination, and a little 
later she found herself in one of the service cars 
headed north instead of south. 

As the Captain was shaking hands with the 
Colonel, she overheard the latter say, "Don't tell 
her until you have to, my boy.'* 

She questioned Gilbert, but he answered her 
evasively, and after a little she gave up trying to 
find out what the Colonel had meant. 



CHAPTER XVI 

THE EETURN TO LITTLE PETSTONE 

CAPTAIN BLYTHE was determined that 
Alice would have no time to ask him ques- 
tions on the ride to the station. He kept 
up a lively chatter about nothing in particular all 
the way. Alice felt that he was forcing himself to 
be lively but she thought that he was trying to 
make her forget the pain in her ankle, and she did 
her best to help him. 

"I wish I hadn't been so clumsy about that land- 
ing, ' ' she said ruefully, when they had taken their 
places in the train for Calais. 

"If Peter ever finds out, he'll rag me awfully, 
and I really can't blame him, it was a stupid thing 
to do." 

"Hum," Captain Blythe showed by his expres- 
sion that he did not agree with her. 

"You'd better be thankful that you got down at 
all," he said with spirit. 

161 



162 ALICE BLYTHE 

"Oh, that's one thing you're sure to do in an 
aeroplane," Alice laughed. "You're just natu- 
rally bound to come down." 

The Captain looked at her for a moment in won- 
dering silence, then he asked suddenly. 

* * Cricket, when did you learn to drive a 'plane 1 ' ' 

Alice hesitated before she answered. 

"Well, you see, Gibbie," she said, "it's a sort 
of a secret between Peter and me, and he might not 
like me to tell, you and Dad are so terribly scared 
to have me do anything, and if I gave away this 
secret you'd always expect me to tell you all the 
others, and you see I can't promise to do that. 
I give you fair warning, there will be others to tell 
too, for now that I've really had a taste of adven- 
ture I am not going to sit at home, or at Little Pet- 
stone either, and just do nothing, I'm going to do 
any number of thrilling things all the rest of my 
life." 

"For instance?" Gilbert inquired, smiling at his 
sister's seriousness. 

"Oh, I don't know just yet," Alice replied, "but 
perhaps I'll have a 'plane of my own or perhaps 
I '11 take up driving. ' ' 

"Oh, I'd think up something better than that," 



KETURN TO LITTLE PETSTONE 163 

Gilbert teased, "why not hunt big game in Africa, 
or go North and harpoon whales!" 

"That's all very well for you to laugh," Alice 
replied, "but I tell you I mean every word I say, 
and Peter will back me up, see if he doesn't." 

"I say," she added after a moment's silence, "it 
was rather tough luck my missing Peter, wasn't it? 
I'm rather cut up about it. That man last night 
kept saying such awful things about * going West, 
and poor chap. ' Of course they were not true, for 
Colonel told me Peter was back in rest billets, but 
somehow I still have that queer depressed feeling 
I can't exactly explain. You don't suppose — " 

"Hello, here we are." Gilbert got up and 
walked to the corridor and looked out of the win- 
dow. "We're pulling in, better get your wraps 
together," he said, and for the moment Alice for- 
got Peter. 

But evil tidings travel fast, and Alice could not 
long be kept in doubt. By special arrangement 
Captain Blythe saw her safely started for England 
that night, and her father met her at Dover. 

She was tired from her trip, and the excite- 
ment of reaching home, and the retelling of her 
adventures kept her mind occupied, but when two 



164 ALICE BLYTHE 

days later she returned to Little Petstone, one 
look at her annts ' faces brought back all the vague 
misgivings she had had. 

"Auntie, what is it?" she demanded, before she 
had taken off her hat. 

Her father had brought her down by car, and 
with Andrew's help had carried her to the sofa 
in the Long Room. 

Aunt Seraphina, who was busy trying to make 
her comfortable, caught Dr. Blythe's warning look 
in time, but Aunt Matilda's hand trembled in 
Alice 's grasp, and she replied brokenly : * ' Oh, my 
dear, there's no use trying to keep it from you, 
I can't do it. Peter's — " she could get no fur- 
ther. 

" There, there, Matilda," the Doctor comforted, 
"you mustn't give up hoping, you know." He 
turned to Alice. * ' We 've had bad news, Cricket, ' ' 
he said gently, "and we wanted to wait until you 
were stronger to tell you about it. Peter has been 
wounded and missing." 

Alice did not reply for several minutes, then she 
said slowly: "I see. That's what the Colonel 
meant when he told Gib. to keep it from me as long 
as possible, and that's why he acted so queerly 



RETURN TO LITTLE PETSTONE 165 

and flustered when I asked about Peter, and oh, 
Daddy, it can't be true — not Peter! Lieutenant 
Grey said he had 'gone West,' but that means — 
oh, I won't believe it — I won't." 

All her courage gave way and she sobbed as if 
her heart would break. 

"Wounded and missing doesn't always mean 
dead, dear child, ' ' her father tried to comfort her. 
"It may mean that Peter's just a prisoner — we 
don't know anything definite yet, and you mustn't 
give way like that, — there's hope ahead. Come 
now, stop." 

Alice did her best to suppress her sobs, but it 
was hard work. She understood too well the 
meaning of the message "wounded and missing," 
to put much faith in her father's hopes. 

"Tell me all you know," she said a little later 
when she had dried her eyes. 

"Nothing but the bare facts, Cricket," her 
father replied. "Peter went up the morning of 
the eighth — the day you were at Fleurette — " 
Alice shuddered, "and one of the observers saw 
his 'plane drop behind the German lines — that's 
all. Of course, Gibbie will do his best to find out 
anything more, and let us know." 



166 ALICE BLYTHE 

"Then no one actually saw him killed?" Alice 
eagerly asked. 

"No, his 'plane was hit by one of the enemy 
anti-aircraft guns and crashed to the ground, 
but they don't know positively that he was hurt." 

Alice nodded. 

"If there's a chance we must try to hope," she 
said bravely. "Perhaps we'll hear something 
soon." 

* * That 's right, ' ' her father agreed, * ' I can 't help 
but feel he's alive." 

But days passed and no word came. Dr. Blythe 
went back to London, and Mrs. Blythe came down 
for a day. Alice's ankle grew better, but she 
could not walk on it, and the time dragged by in 
endless waiting. 

The aunts did their best to smile, but their ter- 
rible anxiety showed only too plainly in their eyes. 
They made much of Alice as an invalid, and by 
waiting on her and inventing new wants every day 
they kept occupied and fought against admitting 
their worst fears for Peter. 

To Alice the inaction was terrible. She was not 
old enough to accept the inevitable without pro- 
test ; she wanted to be up and about, doing some- 



EETURN TO LITTLE PETSTONE 167 

thing or anything to make her forget:* Lieuten- 
ant Grey's words rang in her ears day and night, 
"Poor old chap, he's gone West," and although 
she tried to keep up for the aunts' sake, she found 
it hard to convince herself that there was even a 
slight hope. 

She had been back only a week, when a letter 
from Michael came to her. She was sitting out 
on the terrace in the sunshine when Aunt Sera- 
phina handed it to her. She opened it eagerly to 
find that it contained another envelope addressed 
in Peter's handwriting. 

Michael had written across, the back of it: 
"This came the day you left. I've just heard the 
news. I'm sorry, Cricket, awfully sorry — better 
not read this just yet." 

But Alice disregarded his advice and opened the 
letter. Her hand trembled a little as she read the 
hurried, unheaded scrawl. 

"Just time for a line to-night, as I expect to go up 
bright and early in the morning. There's something 
going on over in Mr. Fritz's back yard that we want to 
find out about, and I'm elected. The only trouble is, 
this particular backyard is so far away that, although I 
may get there, there's a very good chance that I may not 
get back, so this is sort of a 'last line before the battle* 
letter. 



168 ALICE BLYTHE 

"Do you know, Alice, I've been thinking about you all 
day, and well, if I might have one wish to-night it 
would be to see you for a little while — there, does that 
sound awfully rubbishy to you? I suppose it does; or 
perhaps now that you're out here too, you've gotten 
to look at things differently, same as I have. I never 
felt sentimental before, so I can't be sure, but I think 
that's what's the matter with me. Anyway I'm a whole 
lot changed, and as I said before I wish I could be with 
you. I have a notion I'd like to see the way your hair 
grows over your left ear. Considering the opportuni- 
ties I've had to observe it in the past without taking 
advantage of them, shows that I am either coming down 
with a fever or just plain balmy — I'll leave you to 
judge which. Wish me luck, I'm trusting to the blue 
forget-me-not to see me through. 

"Yours, 

"Peter. 

P. S. "Alf. Gubber has been taken prisoner — tough 
luck, isn't it. Hunt sends his best regards. 

Alice let the letter drop to her lap and looked 
out over the garden. Her eyes were blinded by 
hot tears. Peter had never written her a letter 
like that before, and she had never wanted him 
to, at least not until lately. She wondered if it 
were true that going "out there" did change peo- 
ple. She heard Aunt Seraphina in the Long 
Eoom, and hastily hid the letter, and explained 
that it was just a note from Michael. 



BETUKN TO LITTLE PETSTONE 169 

"He says that Alf Gubber has been taken 
prisoner,' ' she said. "I wonder if his family 
know it." 

"I'll send Andrew down to see," Aunt Sera- 
phina replied. "His poor mother will be so up- 
set, I'd go myself only — " 

"No, you stay here, dear, it's too warm for you 
to venture so far, and it would only distress you," 
Alice interrupted, "I'll go." 

"But, my dear, your ankle." 

"Oh, bother my ankle!" Alice tried to laugh; 
"it's really much better, and Andrew can lift me 
into the car and go with me. I'll only drive at a 
snail's pace, I promise, and I really think it would 
do me good." 

Aunt Seraphina was never proof against Alice's 
coaxing, and she had to admit that it was tiresome 
to have to stay so long in the house. So after 
luncheon Andrew helped Alice hop out to the barn, 
and took his place beside her in the car. 

"It's not hard to drive if you have one good 
foot and two good hands," Alice said as they 
started, "so you needn't be worried, Andrew, I 
won 't upset you. ' ' 

"That's as may be," Andrew replied compos- 



170 ALICE BLYTHE 

edly, "but I maun say, lassie, I've mair faith in 
you wi' ane foot than wi' many that has twa." 

Alice could not help being pleased at so flatter- 
ing a compliment. She laughed merrily, and after 
they had gone a little way something of the old 
color came back to her cheeks. 

Mrs. Gubber was at home in her little cottage 
when they reached the village. Alice hobbled into 
the tiny best parlor, and after a little she in- 
duced her hostess to sit down beside her on the 
sofa. 

"What have you heard from Alf?" she in- 
quired after they had exchanged greetings. 

Mrs. Gubber 's face fell. 

"He's been taken a prisoner, Miss," she replied; 
"we had a wire from the War Office last week tell- 
ing us so." 

"I knew it," Alice explained, "but I thought 
perhaps you hadn't heard. I'm so sorry." 

"Mr. Gubber says as how we ought to be thank- 
ful he's livin'," Mrs. Gubber went on sadly, "but 
oh, Miss, when you think of the way those Ger- 
mans treat their prisoners, I can't help but be 
downhearted. ' ' 

"Of course, you can't," Alice comforted, "but 



RETURN TO LITTLE PETSTONE 171 
just the same, it is good to know he's alive, and 
I've an idea that Alf can look after himself," she 
added. 

Mrs. Gubber smiled. "Oh, Alf's no coward, 
Miss, if I do say it, he always was a great one to 
hold his own. But little difference it makes, I 
guess, if he's in one of those prison camps, 
whether he's brave or not." 

Alice was about to reply, when she looked up to 
see Mr. Gubber standing in the doorway, his face 
wreathed in smiles. 

"Good news, Mother!" he said, "here's a letter 
from our Alf." Then as he saw Alice he added, 
"How are you, Miss!" 

"Oh, much better," Alice replied, "what does 
Alf say? Do tell us quick." 

Mr. Gubber handed her a very dirty card. It 
was stamped with the German censor stamp, and 
the writing was so smeared that it was almost 
illegible. 

"Maybe you can make more out of it than I 
can," Mr. Gubber said, "I see it's from Alf, but 
the rest is too much for my eyes. I thought maybe 
Mother could get it better than me." 

Alice took the card and looked at it. There 



172 ALICE BLYTHE 

was an impatient silence while she tried to make 
out the message. At last she read : 

" *I am a prisoner — but well and so don't 
worry. There is a lot of us here together. Food 
is scarce, send some to—" 

Alice stopped. 

"That address is almost impossible to make 
out, but I think we can get it if we see it under a 
magnifying glass," she said. 

"Yes, yes, go on, what's next," Mrs. Gubber 
asked excitedly. 

" 'And I will get it sure,' " Alice continued 
reading. " 'I see Mr. P. a — ' 

"The rest is blotted out," Alice said, "except, 
" 'Your loving son, Alf.' " 

Her voice was tense. She stood up and caught 
hold of Mr. Gubber 's arm. 

"Do you think Alf means Peter by that 'Mr. 
P'?" she asked excitedly. 

"Why, yes, Miss, I'm sure he does," Mrs. Gub- 
ber cried. "Why, who else could he mean?" 
She looked appealingly at her husband. 

Mr. Gubber went over to the family Bible that 
stood on the table and took out a small package 
of letters. 



EETURN TO LITTLE PETSTONE 173 

"He always does speak of him as 'Mr. P.', 
Miss," he explained. 

Alice took the letters from him, as he took them 
out of their envelopes, and scanned them hur- 
riedly. There was a fair sprinkling of "Mr. 
P's" through them all. She was so dizzy with 
the sudden excitement that she could hardly stand. 

"He's alive, Miss, he must be!" Mrs. Gubber 
said excitedly. "Do go straight home and tell 
your dear aunts." 

Alice regained her self-control with an effort, 
and forced herself to say calmly : ' ' No, that's the 
last thing we must do. Don't tell any one. If it 
turned out not to be true, it would kill them — 
can't you see?" 

"You're right, Miss, we mustn't be too hasty," 
Mr. Gubber said. "And now I'll go call Andrew 
to help you back to your car. You look like you 
needed a bit of air." 



CHAPTER XVII 

LIEUTENANT WHITE 

FOR the rest of the day Alice kept her news 
to herself, but it was the hardest thing 
she had ever done in her life. Every time 
that her aunts spoke to her, and she saw the hurt 
look in their eyes, she was tempted to tell every- 
thing; but the thought of their grief, if her sur- 
mise did not prove to be right, kept her from doing 
it. 

All afternoon she sat in the garden trying to 
think it out. She read and reread Alf 's card, and 
studied it under a magnifying glass, but beyond 
the words, "I see Mr. P. a" she could make out 
nothing, and that might mean anything. If, as 
she hoped, it meant, "I see Mr. P. a lot," then why 
didn 't Peter write for himself ? Was he wounded, 
or had he written, and his letter not reached 
them? 

The thoughts tormented her and she could feel 
sure of nothing. 

175 



176 ALICE BLYTHE 

The next morning, after a sleepless night, she 
decided to send for her father or mother. Either 
of them could advise her what to do. Then she 
wrote a long letter to Gilbert, asking him to do 
what he could to make sure. Directly after 
luncheon, she and Andrew started out in the car, 
ostensibly to post her letters, but really to send off 
the wire to Dr. Blythe. 

A sudden impulse made Alice decide, before 
they had reached the village, to confide in the old 
Scotchman beside her. She told him all she knew 
and showed him the card. 

Andrew did not reply at once. He sat think- 
ing for a long while. 

"It's queer," he said at last; "I dinna pretend 
to understand it, but lassie, if I were you, I 
wouldna send off that wire to your father, or the 
letter to the Captain. I'd bide a wee and see what 
happens." 

Alice considered. There was something in An- 
drew's firm voice and look that made her feel that 
she would be wise to take his advice. 

"It's going to be awfully hard to wait," she 
said. 

Andrew nodded understandingly. 



LIEUTENANT WHITE 177 

"Did ye say ye'd made 'oot Alf 's address?" he 
inquired. 

"Yes, and I've written it plainly on this sheet of 
paper to give to Mrs. Gubber, ' ' Alice replied. 

"Weel, dinna gie it to Mrs. Gubber, gie it to- 
me/' Andrew said, "an* I'll ha' a talk wi Gubber 
himsel'. There's a chance o' some kind, lassie, o' 
getting word to Meester Peter in a box of food, 
but I canna say offhand just what it is. Ye maun 
gie me time to think." 

* ' Oh, Andrew, what a splendid idea ! Of course, 
I never thought of it," Alice replied. "I'll leave 
you at Mr. Gubber 's, and you and he can talk it 
over. I'll go on for a little drive and come back 
for you." 

Andrew shook his head. 

"If I'm tae think I maun walk a bit, put me 
doon here and I'll go the rest o' the way mysel'," 
he directed. 

Alice stopped and he got out. 

"I'll be back for you in an hour or so," she said, 
and started the car again. 

Without giving much thought to the direction 
she was taking, she jogged along the back country 
road for a little way, and drew up under a big tree 



178 ALICE BLYTHE 

beside Mystery Meadow, and stopped. It was a 
clear, warm day, and the shade was welcome. 

Alice had not been near the spot since her re- 
turn from France, and it seemed as though every 
stick and stone called back memories of Peter. 
She slipped from her place behind the wheel and 
stretched out comfortably in the other seat. Her 
head fell back and she stared up at the leafy 
branches above her. Picture after picture flashed 
through her mind. She remembered even the 
most trivial incidents of their meeting, the funny 
little things Peter had said to tease her ; the excite- 
ment of those stolen trips. She looked over at 
the deserted barn. 

"Oh, Peter, Peter, you must come back 
to me!" she whispered miserably, and closed 
her eyes as if to shut out the old familiar 
sights. 

When she opened them again she looked at the 
sky, and what she saw made her jump. A fa- 
miliar speck outlined against the blue was coming 
towards her. She watched it, fascinated, hardly 
daring to believe her eyes. It came nearer and 
nearer and circled uncertainly above a field far- 
ther on. 



LIEUTENANT WHITE 179 

The hum of the engine reached her as it came on 
into full view. 

"Engine trouble, I can tell that," Alice said to 
herself, as she watched the uncertain movements 
of the 'plane. She was herself again; the first 
moment of wonder and hope gave way to practical 
common-sense. 

She watched the 'plane curiously as it chose a 
spot to land, and saw it volplane down towards 
her. It lighted rather heavily in a far corner of 
the field, and the driver climbed out. He in- 
spected his engine and made one or two attempts 
to start, but failed each time. Alice saw by his 
uniform that he was a member of the Royal Fly- 
ing Corps. 

"I suppose I've got to go and help you," she 
said, sliding back into the driver's seat, "but I 
don't see why you had to come just at this mo- 
ment, or pick out this particular field to land in," 
she added crossly to herself. 

She turned the car around, turned up a lane 
that skirted the edge of the field, and was soon just 
on the other side of the fence from the aeroplane. 

1 ' Can 't I help ? " she called cheerfully. " I see 
you're in trouble." 



180 ALICE BLYTHE 

The driver of the 'plane took off his cap and 
came over to her. 

"You are very kind, I am sure, to offer," he 
said, choosing his words with care, "but I fear 
my machine is beyond your help. ' ' 

"Oh, I wouldn't be too sure about that," Alice 
laughed, "I know a lot about engines." 

She looked at the man and smiled. He was tall 
and blonde; his eyes were a light blue and very 
small, and the lower part of his face was too heavy 
for the rest of it. Alice decided at once that she 
did not like him, but he was in trouble and she felt 
it was her duty to help him. 

"Anyway I can run you up to the village in my 
car and save you a dusty walk," she said, deter- 
mined to be good-natured and polite. 

"Thank you, that's very jolly of you," the man 
replied, "but may I ask whom I have the honor to 
address? I am Lieutenant "White of the Royal 
Flying Corps, as you see." 

"Oh, I'm Alice Blythe," Alice told him, "and 
now that we're properly introduced, what can I 
do for you?" 

Lieutenant White smiled for the first time. 

"If you can tell me where I can find a hotel 



LIEUTENANT WHITE 181 

where I can get something to eat, I'll be very 
greatly obliged," he said, "I've made a long flight 
and I admit I am very hungry." 

"Why, there isn't a place in the village worthy 
of the name of a hotel," Alice replied, "but if you 
will, I'll be glad to take you to my aunts'. We 
don't live far from here, and it's almost tea time, 
isn't it?" 

She unconsciously expected him to look at a 
wrist watch, and was a little surprised to see that 
he carried an old fashioned watch in his pocket, 
with the chain fastened in the buttonhole of his 
lapel. As he pulled it out and consulted it, the 
lapel turned over from the weight of the chain. 

It was only for an instant, but it was long 
enough for Alice to see that there was a small 
blue forget-me-not embroidered beneath it. 



CHAPTER XVm 

IN THE TOWEB 

IT was fortunate that Alice did not at once 
realize the importance of her discovery. If 
she had, it is hardly likely that she would have 
kept her head and continued the conversation with 
Lieutenant White. As it was, her thoughts were 
so confused that she found it almost impossible to 
keep calm and not show by her expression the tu- 
mult that was going on in her heart. All the color 
left her cheeks, but Lieutenant White did not 
seem to notice it. He slipped the watch back in 
his pocket and jumped over the stone wall. 

"You are very kind, I am sure, Miss Blythe, and 
although I dislike having to trouble you so much, 
I will accept your invitation. My 'plane will be 
safe here, will it not?" 

Alice nodded and forced a smile. 

"Yes indeed, it's not likely that any one will see 
it, and if they do, I assure you none of the natives 
hereabout know anything about flying. ' ' 

183 



184 ALICE BLYTHE 

The Lieutenant smiled, opened the door of the 
car and took his place beside her, and they started 
back along the road. 

Alice had no formed idea or plan of what she 
was going to do with the man in the seat beside 
her. She felt for the moment that she had him 
more or less in her hands, but the chief thing was 
not to frighten him. 

"Do you know this part of the country at all?" 
she asked to make conversation. 

"Not very well," the officer replied hurriedly. 
"I have not lived much of my life in England, 
although, of course, I am perfectly familiar with 
London and some of the country, you understand. ' ' 

"Oh, certainly. We're rather tucked away 
down here," Alice said; "very few people really 
know this spot at all. ' * 

"It is truly delightful; I am glad I discovered 
it," he replied politely. 

"Wonder if you'll say that this time to-mor- 
row," Alice thought to herself. 

They were not going very fast. She was pur- 
posely taking as long as possible in order to have 
time to think. 

As they passed the road that led to the village, 



IN THE TOWER 185 

Alice saw Andrew sitting on a stone waiting for 
her. She increased her speed a little and passed 
him with barely a nod, but she made signs for him 
to follow, with her hand. 

When they turned in the gates of Brinsley Hall, 
the Lieutenant asked: "Is this your place? It's 
very charming. I really feel myself most fortu- 
nate — no end so, in fact, J' he added with a visible 
effort. 

Alice wanted to laugh, for she realized that he 
was trying to be very English for her benefit, and 
his precise stilted way of talking was funny. 

"It is a rather nice place, " she admitted. "It 
has an interesting history too, and we're no end 
proud of the gardens ; I'll show them to you while 
we 're waiting for tea. ' ' 

They stopped at the terrace and Alice tried hard 
not to limp too much, as she led the way through 
the Dutch door into the Long Room. 

"Do sit down and I'll find some food," she 
laughed, pointing to a chair. 

Lieutenant White looked about him curiously, 
and after a little hesitation sank into the offered 
chair. 

Alice hurried from the room. It was only a 



186 ALICE BLYTHE 

little after three, and her aunts were still in their 
rooms taking their afternoon rest. Alice tiptoed 
to the kitchen — the maids were nowhere in sight — 
then with a sigh of relief she returned to the Long 
Eoom. 

1 ' Your watch is fast, ' ' she said laughing. ' ' It 's 
really only a little after three, but I've ordered 
tea ; it will be along in a few minutes. ' ' 
. The Lieutenant, who had risen when she entered 
the room, bowed stiffly. 

"It is most unfortunate that I must put you to 
so much trouble," he said precisely. 

"Not a bit of it," Alice assured him. "Would 
you care to take a turn in the garden while you 
wait? I can't go with you because of this beastly 
sprained ankle." She pointed to her foot, shod 
in a bedroom slipper. 

"Oh no, indeed, I am quite comfortable where 
I am, I thank you," Lieutenant White protested. 
"Do not cause yourself any anxiety over me, 
please. Perhaps if you would care to bother, you 
will tell me something about this part of the coun- 
try." 

"Oh, so you're trying to pump me, eh?" Alice 
thought to herself, but aloud she said : "Why I 'd 



IN THE TOWER 187 

be no end glad to. We have some rather inter- 
esting places in the neighborhood. But first let 
me go and hurry up tea a bit, and incidentally my 
aunts. You see we caught them napping and 
they're a trifle flurried.' ■ 

"No, pray don't disturb them," the Lieutenant 
protested, but Alice left the room. 

She did not, however, go to the kitchen or to the 
aunts' rooms. She limped painfully through the 
house and down the front driveway. Andrew was 
already in sight, and she beckoned to him to hurry, 
and hid behind a big rhododendron bush. 

Andrew followed her. Alice pulled him out of 
sight and whispered excitedly: "That man you 
saw in my car, Andrew, is a German spy, and he 's 
got on Mr. Peter's uniform. I know it, but I 
haven't time now to explain how. He's in the 
Long Room waiting for food." 

Andrew for once in his life looked startled. 

"What shall we do with him?" Alice continued. 
"I don't dare let him out of my sight." 

It seemed an eternity of minutes before Andrew 
answered, but when he did he spoke quickly and 
to the point. Alice nodded when he finished and 
hurried back to the house. 



188 ALICE BLYTHE 

"Have I been an age?" she asked gayly from 
the door of the Long Room. "I'm most awfully 
sorry, but we are so shy of servants — only two 
left to run this big house — the rest have all gone 
'over to munitions,' as they call it." 

Lieutenant White sat up straight and became 
suddenly interested. 

' ' Are there any munition plants about here T " he 
inquired almost too quietly. 

"Yes, indeed," Alice replied, "any amount of 
them — grubby places, don't you think? — and so 
awfully dangerous." Then as she saw Andrew 
step on to the terrace she changed the subject 
abruptly. "But ammunition is not a nice tea- 
time topic, is it ? Let me show you over the house. 
I'll wager you'd never believe from the innocent 
look of the outside that we've a real secret tower. 
Come over here a second." 

The officer evidently thought it best for his own 
ends to humor her. He got up reluctantly and 
went over beside the fire place. 

Alice pointed to the old shield emblazoned above 
it, and as he examined it, she slipped her hand 
along the panel and found the spring. When 




"Two very, very big and very strong hands thrust him 
aone too gently through the opening." 



189 



Page 191. 



IN THE TOWER 191 

Lieutenant White turned to her, his back was to- 
wards the door, and he did not see Andrew. 

"That's very interesting, I'm sure," he said 
politely, "but about these munition — " 

He got no farther, for Alice, at a signal from 
Andrew, touched the spring; the panel opened 
slowly, and before the astonished officer realized 
what was happening, two very big and very strong 
hands thrust him none too gently through the 
opening, and he saw the panel close as mysteri- 
ously as it had opened. 



CHAPTER XIX 

HOPES 

LIEUTENANT WHITE recovered his 
senses almost at once and thundered on 
the door. 

"There's no use of ye 're doing that," Andrew 
spoke mildly, his mouth to the panel. i ' If ye keep 
still we'll dae ye na harm, but if ye start argy 
bargying, I'll be forced to treat ye sternly." 

Lieutenant White had not the vaguest idea 
what "argy bargying" meant, but he wisely re- 
frained from further poundings. Alice and An- 
drew quizzed him uninterruptedly for the rest of 
the afternoon, and he answered most of the ques- 
tions they asked him. 

"He's the reason for Meester Peter's not 
writin ', ' ' Andrew said at last. * * Just how I canna 
tell, but we'll find oot somehow, and, lassie, I'm 
thinkin' we're safe in believin' that Meester 
Peter's alive." 

"I think so too from what he says," Alice re- 
plied. "But, Andrew, do you think he meant it 

193 



194 ALICE BLYTHE 

when he said that Peter would be shot, if we 
handed him over to the authorities and news of it 
reached Germany ?" 

In the course of the questioning, Lieutenant 
White had made many such threats calculated 
to intimidate his jailors. Alice was inclined to 
believe him, but Andrew was hard to convince. 

" 'E's a powerfu' secht o' words, but I'm no* 
so sure there's much in what he said. However, 
we'll tak' no chances. Gubber and I arranged a 
plan this afternoon. ' ' 

"Oh, tell me," Alice begged. 

" Whereby we can send a box," Andrew con- 
tinued, "containin' food to Alf, to the address he 
sent." 

"Well, go on," Alice insisted. 

"Gubber is to write a wee note saying he hopes 
Alf and his friend enjoy the food, an ordinary 
note ye ken that will get by the censor, adding the 
words — 'especially ye 're Mither's pudding.' " 

"Yes, yes, and in the pudding," Alice prompted 
impatiently. 

"In the pudding 'twill be a plum pudding, ye 
ken, we're goin' to hide a wee compass in one o* 
the plums." 



HOPES 195 

Andrew stopped, but Alice looked vague, and he 
went on to explain. 

"A compass, lassie, is all that any able-bodied 
man needs to get out of a small prison camp. In 
the big ones, of course, it's anither matter, and 
there's the trouble. If we can get the box to Alf 
afore he's transferred, there's a good chance that 
he and Mr. P. may escape — it's the best we can 
do, lassie, and I'll grant ye it's no' verra much." 

"And in the meantime?" Alice asked, pointing 
to the door. 

"In the meantime, we'll keep our fine friend 
where he is," Andrew replied. 

"But how will we feed him?" 

Andrew scratched his head. "That's a seri- 
ous question," he said, "but it's no great matter. 
If we canna think of a safe way, he maun go un- 
fed." 

Alice, even in her excitement, could not re- 
press a smile. 

"When does the box to Alf go?" she asked. 

"This verra nicht," Andrew replied as he 
walked over to the panel again. 

In words none too gentle, but which left no 
doubt as to their meaning, he warned the man 



196 ALICE BLYTHE 

in the tower to keep very still, and left him to un- 
derstand that if he didn't, he would receive a 
thrashing worse than even his German imagina- 
tion could picture. His warning was received in 
sullen silence, and Andrew left the room with a 
satisfied smile. 

Alice sat down to think. She was frightened, 
thoroughly frightened, and she watched the panel 
nervously. Her aunts came down for tea a little 
later, and she forced herself to talk cheerfully, but 
one ear was strained listening for a sound from 
the corner of the room. 

After dinner she sent Andrew to Mystery 
Meadow, and told him to roll the 'plane out of 
sight into the barn. When he came back she had 
devised a plan to get food to the prisoner. She 
Waited until her aunts were asleep, and then called 
Andrew who was waiting on the terrace. 

She had a tray stocked with provisions ready 
on the table and two big thermos bottles filled with 
water. It was not a tempting meal, for it con- 
sisted mostly of food in jars, and several boxes of 
crackers ; two loaves of bread and a plate of cold 
meat. 



HOPES 197 

"It's much for a German," was Andrew's com- 
ment. 

"But it's got to last for goodness knows how 
long," Alice reminded him, and she explained 
her plan. 

The only other outlet from the tower was 
through a small room at the top of the house 
that Peter had used long ago as his own particu- 
lar snuggery. A panel behind a bookcase opened 
much the same way as the one in the Long Boom. 
Alice told Andrew to go up to that door and wait. 

Then she went over to the panel beside the fire- 
place and called. 

"Lieutenant White," she said, when a sullen 
voice answered her, "if you will go upstairs to the 
very top of the tower, Andrew will give you your 
dinner," she explained. "Now please don't 
argue," she continued, interrupting a volley of 
exclamations, "and if I were you I wouldn't keep 
Andrew waiting too long, he might get tired, and 
then you'd be without your dinner. And oh, by 
the way, while we're talking, I may as well add 
that we don't intend keeping you here any longer 
than necessary, and if you behave and don't make 



198 ALICE BLYTHE 

a noise, I hope that in a few days we will have 
come to some solution. It's possible that we may 
let you go on account of my cousin, you know — 
now go upstairs and get your dinner. I don't 
want to hear what you have to say, I'm not in- 
terested." 

She waited breathlessly and before very long 
she heard the thud, thud of his boots as he as- 
cended the stairs. When she was sure he was al- 
most to the top, she pressed the spring of the 
panel and slipped the tray inside the tower. Then 
she touched the spring and the panel closed. 

Up at the top of the house, Andrew was care- 
fully explaining to Lieutenant White that it was 
all a mistake and that he would find his dinner at 
the bottom of the stairs. 

All that night the old Scotchman sat in the gar- 
den and kept watch, while Alice curled up on the 
sofa in the Long Room and did her best to sleep. 



CHAPTER XX 

NEWS AT LAST 

ONE week later found them both at their 
same posts. The box had been sent, but 
no news of either Peter or Alf had come. 
Alice looked tired and worn out. There were 
heavy circles under her eyes that she had a hard 
time explaining away to the aunts, and a grim 
look had settled around the corners of Andrew's 
mouth. 

He refused to give up hope, but as Alice settled 
herself on the sofa on this particular evening, she 
was planning how best to explain the situation to 
her father, for she had made up her mind to face 
defeat, she could not bear the endless waiting any 
longer. Even the repeated threats of the German 
that Peter would surely be killed failed to rouse 
her. Her hopes were dead ; she sure would never 
see Peter again anyway, and the ultimate fate of 
Lieutenant White did not matter. 

Thus she argued, as she tried to find a comfort- 

199 



200 ALICE BLYTHE 

able position for her head on the stiff arm of the 
sofa. But when the sound of carriage wheels on 
the drive came to her, and she heard Andrew's 
voice from the terrace, she jumped up excitedly, a 
new hope in her heart. 

"What is itf" she called softly. "Oh, it's the 
Major." Her voice fell as she recognized the 
Chetwoods' dogcart. "What are you doing out 
at this hour of the night ?" 

"My dear child, I've news, the most extraordi- 
nary news for you," the Major replied excitedly, 
climbing out of the rig. "Your father called me 
up from London not twenty minutes ago. We 
were all sound asleep — yes, sound asleep — he's 
had a wire from Peter's Colonel. The boy's safe 
and on his way home. Think of it, my dear, not 
dead at all ! Your father said he knew I 'd bring 
over the message. Your not having a 'phone in 
— great mistake, that — but no matter, I was only 
too glad to come. There — there, you mustn't let 
it upset you so!" he continued, as Alice, once she 
had sifted the real meaning of the Major's words, 
threw herself into Andrew's arms and burst into 
tears. 

"It's a wee bit o' a shock, sir," Andrew said 



NEWS AT LAST 201 

gently, "and comin' sudden like, it has upset her 
a bit. Did the Doctor say how Meester Peter 
came back?" he inquired. 

"Yes, yes, of course — most extraordinary — 
really, you know, Andrew," the Major answered; 
"he escaped from a prison, you know, with an- 
other chap. By Jove! I was forgetting that — 
important too. The other chap was Alf Gubber 
— just fancy — our Gubber 's boy. His mother 
must know of course." 

"I'll tell her, sir," Andrew interrupted quietly, 
"i* the mornin' early. There's no use scarin' 
her, sir, she's no verra strong. That's ma brave 
lassie," he continued as Alice lifted her head from 
his shoulder and wiped her eyes. 

"How silly of me to cry," she said tremulously, 
"it's not at all a crying matter, is it? Come into 
the house, Major. I think I'll wait till the morn- 
ing to tell the aunts. It's safer, I think." 

"Thank you, no, my dear, I'll be going back to 
bed," the Major replied. "Did I tell you, Peter 
was expected to arrive to-morrow?" 

"Yes, in London," Alice said, "and that means 
unless he's ill that he will come straight down 
here. Oh, Major, I can hardly believe it." 



202 ALICE BLYTHE 

"No, of course not — very sudden but — splen- 
did, eh! I tell you I was as excited as you are — 
could hardly talk to your father, you know." 

"Come down in the morning," Alice called as 
he drove off in the dogcart. 

"Oh, Andrew! Andrew!" she exclaimed when 
he was out of hearing, "am I dreaming?" 

"No, lassie," the old man replied, "you're no 
dreamin\ Meester Peter will soon be here, and 
that base imposter," he added in an entirely dif- 
ferent tone, "will ha* his just reward at Meester 
Peter's hands. It's a gran' thought, lassie, niver 
forget that." 

They talked excitedly for the rest of the night, 
for sleep was out of the question. 

At the first hint of day, Andrew started for the 
village to tell the Gubbers, and Alice stole back 
into the house, and tiptoed first to Aunt Sera- 
phina's room. She roused her with a kiss. 

"Auntie," she said calmly, "I've got some very 
good news for you, so get up and come into Aunt 
Matilda's room, so I can tell you both at once. 
Hurry up, because it's very, very good news, and 
I can hardly keep it to myself." 

When both the old ladies were quite wide- 



NEWS AT LAST 203 

awake she continued: "It's about Peter — he's 
alive and well, and what's more, he's coming 
home on leave this very day. So get up and 
hustle into your clothes because — of course — 
there 's just loads to be done, and we want every- 
thing in tip-top shape for him. And remember: 
no tears, he wouldn't like that, he'll feel bad 
enough at the sorrow he's caused us, and we 
mustn't make it any harder," she finished, and 
then she very wisely left them to have their cry 
out together. 

She went down to the Long Room and tiptoed 
over to the panel, and knocked. 

"Oh, Lieutenant White," she called, "I'm 
sorry to disturb you, but I thought you'd like to 
know that to-day will be the last day of your visit. 
We expect a friend of yours down who'll be no 
end glad to see you," she added mischievously. 

"Very well," the Lieutenant replied, "but I 
warn you, your cousin will be shot." 

Alice laughed gayly. 

"Now I wouldn't be too sure about that, Lieu- 
tenant, really I wouldn't," she replied. 

For the rest of the day the wires between Little 
Petstone and London were kept busy. Alice spent 



204 ALICE BLYTHE 

all of her time at the Central office waiting for 
news. At a little after two a call came for her, 
and a voice that she knew above all other voices 
sounded over the wire. 

"Alice, are you there ?" 

"Oh, Peter, yes, of course. When are you 
coming down?" 

"On the very next train. Will you be at the 
station! " 

"Well, rather!" 

"Then good-by, I've just time to make it." 

"Good-by." 

This was all the conversation, but it was 
enough. 

Alice hurried back to Brinsley Hall in her car 
to tell her aunts, and was back at the station an 
hour before the train was due. All the waiting 
that she had been forced to do in the past crowded 
month seemed as nothing compared to that hour. 
Her foot hurt her more than ever, and she could 
not walk off her excitement, but at last she heard 
the welcome rumble of the coming train, and in 
less time than it takes to tell it Peter was on the 
platform beside her. 

Alice had been planning for most of that last 



NEWS AT LAST 205 

hour what she would say, but every word went 
out of her head and she just said: 

"Peter!" 

Peter seemed to consider that enough, for he 
took her in his arms and kissed her. 

"I say, this is wonderful! "Why, I've dreamed 
about coming back like this, ' ' he said as they drove 
off in the car, "and now it's happening, I can't 
believe it." 

"It doesn't seem possible, does it?" Alice 
laughed. "And now, Peter, please tell me all 
about it. I 'm dying of curiosity, and I can 't wait 
any longer. Besides you'd better not talk about 
it before the aunts. You and Alf got the compass, 
I know that much — that was Andrew's idea, and 
now go on." 

"Yes, we got it, or rather I did, for of course I 
happened to bite into the plum that it was hidden 
in. We'd made a lot of plans, you know, before 
that came. You see, after that Boche took my 
uniform, and oh, but I forgot you don 't know about 
that, ' ' he interrupted himself. Alice did not con- 
tradict him, and he continued, "Well, any way I 
was stuck into a pig pen with a lot of men — Alf 
among them — and we had some barbed wire to 



206 ALICE BLYTHE 

keep us there; it was not a regular camp, you 
know. We were expecting to be moved on any 
day but luck was with us. Alf and I decided we 
could get out easy enough if we only knew where 
our lines were. That's where the compass came 
in. The very night it came we started off. It 
was raining, which helped, and we got through the 
wire without too much trouble and then struck 
north. Alf wanted to go east. I had an idea in 
the back of my head, so insisted on going north. 
We traveled quite a way before daylight. Just 
as we were deciding to crawl into a ditch and wait 
for the night, we heard a 'plane above us. We 
ducked and watched. It was a German machine, 
and it landed in our field, and the Boche driver 
got out and began tinkering with the engine. I 
gave Alf a signal, and — well — the rest isn't very 
pretty to tell, but after we had finished up the 
driver and left him rolled in the ditch, we got into 
the machine, and we didn't stop going until we 
landed in front of our own Headquarters. What 
our boys thought when they saw a German 'plane 
gently landing, I don't know, and any way it 
doesn't matter. Alf and I got a royal welcome, 
and ten days' sick leave." 



NEWS AT LAST 207 

Alice was silent ; they had almost reached Brins- 
ley Hall by the time Peter finished his story. She 
was wondering how best to tell him about the man 
in the tower. 

Her opportunity did not come until late that 
evening when the aunts, tired out but happy be- 
yond measure at last, went to bed, and Peter sug- 
gested a walk in the garden. Alice went out with 
him and they sat down on the stone bench in the 
rose garden. 

Peter found her hand and held it. After a 
little silence he said unexpectedly, "By Jove, 
Alice, you're rather splendid, know that, and 
I do like the way your hair grows over your 
ear. ' ' 

Alice laughed happily, then Peter went on seri- 
ously: "There's only one thing that spoils all 
this, and that's that a Boche wearing my uniform, 
and driving one of our 'planes, is at large some- 
where. I haven't told you, but my 'plane came 
down behind the lines. I was unconscious, and 
when I came to, I found my uniform gone, and 
later I saw a man go up in my 'plane with it on. 
If I could only get a hold of him I'd give ten years 
of my life. ' ' 



208 ALICE BLYTHE 

Alice got up and went over towards the terrace 
and called Andrew. 

"Mr. Peter says he'd give ten years of his life 
if he could get our friend in the tower, Andrew. 
Do you want them?" 

' ' Na, na, Meester Peter may keep all his years, ' ' 
Andrew laughed, "but I'll no deny that I'll be 
sorry to gie up yonder German.' ' 

Peter jumped to his feet. "What under the 
sun are you two talking about?" he demanded. 

Alice explained in as few words as possible. 

"But how did you know it was my uniform?" 
Peter asked wonderingly. 

"By the blue forget-me-not, of course," Alice 
replied calmly; "how else would I know?" 

Peter did not reply. He beckoned Andrew to 
follow, and not many minutes later he had the 
pleasure of seeing the man who wore his uniform 
standing before him, his hands held high above 
his head. 

"So you're Lieutenant White, are you?" he 
demanded. 

A gruff affirmative answered him. The Ger- 
man's nerves had been sorely tried for the last few; 
days and he was very angry. 



NEWS AT LAST 209 

"What are you going to do about it?" he asked 
with an attempt at bravado that was decidedly out 
of place in his present state of surrender. 

"Well, first I'm going to ask you a few ques- 
tions," Peter replied. "First of all what do you 
know about the man whose uniform you are wear- 
ing?" 

There was no answer, the German regarded his 
questioner sullenly. 

"Na, Na, Maister Peter, that's no the way to 
gae aboot it, if you'll no mind I'll ask him that 
question ma seL" 

Peter nodded. "Go ahead, Andrew," he said 
smiling. 

The old Scotchman turned to the prisoner. 

"Did ye ken aught of the man that wore that 
uniform afore you did?" he demanded, his deep 
set eyes burning like coals of fire. 

"Ye maun better tell me the truth for I ken the 
answer ma sel, and it'll dae ye na gude to lee aboot 
it." 

The German did exactly what the wily Andrew 
wanted him to. He doubted the truth of this last 
assertion and to find out if he was right he fell 
into the trap and answered the question. 



210 ALICE BLYTHE 

"Lieutenant St. John was the Englishman that 
wore this uniform, ' ' he said. * * I told you that be- 
fore, or rather, she — " he nodded towards Alice, 
— "discovered it, but what I didn't tell you was 
that Lieutenant St. John was dead when the uni- 
form was taken from him," he lied, and watched 
the effect of his words. 

Peter stepped on Andrew's foot as a signal to 
keep silent ; and turned to the German. 

* ' So St. John is dead, is he ? " he inquired. 

"Yes," the German's lips curled, and his small 
eyes gleamed maliciously, "he's dead." 

1 ■ Then you only threatened me to scare me, eh ? " 
Alice inquired. * ' He wasn 't being held as hostage 
for your safety?" 

"No, he wasn't, but there are plenty of men 
who are." The German spoke harshly, "and I 
warn you if you give me up, not one, but a hun- 
dred of your soldiers will lose their lives." 

"Tosh, man!" Andrew exclaimed, in admira- 
tion, "but ye've a grand imagination, yestereven 
it was just ane, and noo it's a hundred, ye fair tak 
ma breath away." 

Peter and Alice consulted in undertones. 

"He's never seen me before," Peter said, "and 



NEWS AT LAST 211 

now that I come to think of it, that's very likely— 
rather a good joke, isn't it?" 

"No," Alice replied decidedly, "it is not. 
What are you going to do with him?" 

"Run him up to London to-night," Peter re- 
plied; "he's too dangerous to keep down here, and 
besides the sooner he's out of that uniform the 
happier I'll be." He turned to Andrew. 

"We'll just take a little ride, Andrew," he said, 
"if you don't mind, and on the way we'll stop and 
get Alf Gubber. I know he '11 be glad to go along 
and make up the even number. ' ' 

"Don't you want me to drive the car?" Alice 
asked. * ' I can, you know, and — ' ' 

Peter interrupted her. 

"Certainly not," he said; "you go up to bed, 
we'll take care of Lieutenant White — this is a 
man's job, my dear," he added with a condescen- 
sion that infuriated Alice. 

"But when will you be back, and where are you 
going?" she asked, putting the question that con- 
cerned her most first. 

"Oh, I'll be back to-morrow," Peter replied. 
"I'll just see the Lieutenant comfortably settled 
for the night and then I'll go over to Aunt Grace's. 



212 ALICE BLYTHE 

You see, I'll be rather an important witness and I 
may be needed in the morning, but I'll hurry.' ' 

"Who are you?" the German demanded. His 
slow mind was just beginning to grasp a certain 
possibility. 

Alice laughed and Peter turned to Andrew. 

"Introduce me," he said. 

"Wi pleasure, laddie," Andrew replied. He 
turned to the German. 

"Man, this is a solemn minute and I hope you'll 
no forget it," he said. "This is Lieutenant St. 
John, the same lad ye saw lying dead. Is that no 
a strange thing to witness?" he chuckled. 

The German did not reply, the humor of the sit- 
uation did not strike him. He hung his head and 
followed Peter to the car. He did not speak again 
until he was safe in the hands of the authorities. 



CHAPTER XXI 

AN UNDERSTANDING AT MYSTERY MEADOW 

«' a LETTER for you, my dear," Aunt Sera- 
Z_k phina said, a few days later, as she came 

^ -^out to the terrace where Alice was sitting 
alone. 

"For me, Auntie? How nice! Why it's from 
Helen Carey I" she exclaimed, opening the en- 
velope. "How jolly of her. She says — 

"Dear Alice, 

"No time for that long overdue letter, but I must 
rush off a few lines. So much has been happening — 
but first, I am so glad that Lieutenant St. John is all 
right. Dr. Jepson told me, and — well, I can just im- 
agine how you feel. 

"I have seen Allen. Did you ever know such luck! 
He was wounded — not seriously, thank goodness, — when 
the Engineers joined in that thrilling fight. He's at 
Fleurette, and I went over to see him, and — but I 
mustn't get sentimental, I haven't time, but of course, 
I'm awfully, awfully happy. There's a new nurse over 
at Fleurette, a little French girl named Valerie Duval. 
She has short hair and oh, my dear, she has done the 
most thrilling things you ever heard of. Even Marie- 

213 



214 ALICE BLYTHE 

ken has to take a back seat when she begins telling of 
her adventures. I'll give you a detailed account some 
day, if I've— " 

Alices reading was suddenly interrupted for 
two hands covered her eyes. 

"Peter, how rude of you!" she said laughing. 

"Who's your letter from?" Peter demanded. 

"Helen Carey, she's discovered a little French 
girl." 

"Oh, who cares?" Peter said calmly, taking the 
letter away from her. 

"Nothing matters except you and me, and the 
fact that we're going for a little spin to Mystery 
Meadow. Come along." 

Alice snatched her hat and followed him to the 
stable. Peter drove and they did not say very 
much until they had stopped under the big tree 
by the wall. Then Peter turned in his seat and 
looked hard at his companion. 

"Alice," he said very gravely, "I'm about to 
propose to you. Now please do not interrupt me, 
because I'm rather flustered, and I've forgotten 
the hang of what I planned to say, but — well — 
here's the gist of it. I love you very much, and 
will you marry me some day after this beastly 



AN UNDERSTANDING 215 

war is over? Now please say yes, because if you 
don't I'll be no end disappointed. You see I 
really do love you, dear," he added gently. 

Alice looked up at him and laughed softly. 

"You know I will, Peter," she said; "that was 
all settled ages ago, as far back as yesterday." 

"Oh, was it?" Peter asked surprised. 

"Of course. Didn't you know?" Alice asked. 
"Oh, what simpletons men are !" she added, bury- 
ing her head on his shoulder. 



THE END 



The Motor Girls 
SERIES 



By MARGARET PENROSE 



The Motor Girls 

The Motor Girls on Tour 
At Lookout Beach 

Through New England 
On Cedar Lake 
On the Coast 
On Crystal Bay 
On Waters Blue 
At Camp Surprise 
In the Mountains 



The Motor Girls arc a frolicking gypsy-like 
crew who follow tbe call of fun and adventure 
where it leads. Cora Kimball, the leader, is a 
whimsical, fun-loving girl with sterling qualities 
and in her train are as an attractive a group of 
young people as you might find in a day's journey. 
The Motor Girls will lead you to die country's 
most delightful pleasure grounds. 



The Goldsmith Publishing Co. 

CLEVELAND, O. 



EVERYGIRLS 

SERIES 



Jane Lends A Hand 

Georgina Finds Herself 

Nancy of Paradise Cottage 

By Shirley Watkins 



The S. W. F. Club 

By Caroline E. Jacobs 



Anne, Princess of Everything 

By Blanche Elizabeth Wade 



Assembled in this "Everygirls" series are books 
of genuine distinction and exceptional merit. Caro- 
line E. Jacobs, Shirley Watkins and Blanche Eliza- 
beth Wade are writers of the first order, and these 
five books are representative of their finest efforts. 
Each is a separate story and each is a real gem. 



The Goldsmith Publishing Co. 

CLEVELAND, O. 



jOUTHBlN REBOUi 




A 000 165 715